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Report by Anthony Onifade.

LEEDS UNITED produced one of their finest performances under Marcelo Bielsa as they swiftly marched to an impressive 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park, ending the Villains 100% start to the new Premier League campaign.

Patrick Bamford scored the first Premier League hat-trick by a Leeds player since Mark Viduka scored three times against Charlton Athletic in a 6-1 win in April 2003. The former Middlesborough man also scored his first hat-trick since 2018, against Leeds for Boro in the Championship.

While the former Norwich and Derby County man may have taken all the plaudits, for his performance. In the absence of captain and main man Kalvin Phillips, it was another player who ran the show in the middle of the park for Bielsa’s side.

21-year-old Jamie Shackleton, was only introduced in the 21st minute for when Bielsa withdrew Pascal Struijk after his early yellow card, and the young midfielder needed no time to settle himself in what proved a frantic and exciting end-to-end match.

Shackleton, on his first real opportunity in the English top-flight, put in a sparkling showing, and showcasing why he’s so highly thought of within the Leeds United camp.

An ever-present in midfield, Shackleton was everywhere, whether driving into the Aston Villa penalty area or defending his own box, he was the embodiment of everything good about Marcelo Bielsa’s side. In his 70 minutes on the pitch, Shackleton, recorded 35 touches, 1 key tackle, 2 interceptions, 1 key passes and an a passing average of 84%. An impressive way to begin your Premier League career.

The second-half saw Leeds United spring some scintillating counter-attacking moves, and Shackleton was at the heart of it all with his high-intensity running, very neat passing and a constant thorn in Aston Villa’s side.

He may hold a slightly short frame standing at 5’6 but that shouldn’t take away from the qualities he possesses. Shackleton is still more than capable to get himself about pressing his opponents as well as tracking his runners and screening in front of the back four.

With Kalvin Phillips likely to be out of action for the next month or so, Jamie Shackleton may now have forced himself into Marcelo Bielsa’s thoughts for the next few weeks, and the wonderkid now certainly looks good enough to do just that.

Shackleton’s bravery, tenacity and cutting thrust in the middle coupled with Mateusz Klich’s brilliance will surely provide Leeds with the platform to continue their excellent start in the coming weeks. Marcelo Bielsa may well have found his next footballing star.

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April 2024