Phil Hay feels that Daniel James has moved ahead of Jack Harrison in the Leeds United pecking order, for now.
Leeds swooped to sign James from Manchester United in the summer transfer window, splashing £25m on the Wales international.
James arrived to compete with Jack Harrison and Raphinha out wide, both of whom had superb debut years in the Premier League in 2020/21.
The expectation was that James would have to be patient for his opportunities at Leeds given Harrison and Raphinha’s standing in the squad.
However, Harrison has struggled in the opening 14 games of the Premier League season and James has actually started on eight occasions so far.
Patrick Bamford’s injury means that both have had the chance to start together, although the striker’s pending return means there’s a decision on the horizon for Marcelo Bielsa.
In the eyes of Phil Hay, he feels that in a fully fit squad, James starts over Harrison on the left due to his current form. He explained on The Athletic:
“Long term it’s hard to say but for now, looking at their respective form, I think James starts ahead of Harrison. There isn’t room for both when Bamford plays and Raphinha is fit.”
It’s probably the right assessment of the Leeds pecking order right now.
If everyone was fully fit, given how they are all currently playing, you’d imagine that Leeds’ front four would line up as: James, Rodrigo, Raphinha and Bamford.
Harrison has struggled at the start of this season and failed to build on a superb campaign last time around, when he was involved in 16 goals.
Bielsa will have to manage him well in the coming months, keeping his confidence high and handing him opportunities from the bench where he sees fit.
Things can change quickly in football and that’s something that should keep Harrison hungry.