Alan Hutton has pinpointed the specific ways in which Leeds striker Patrick Bamford has raised his game to make it in the Premier League.
Ahead of Leeds’ return to the top-flight last summer, one of their main doubts was whether Bamford would get them enough goals.
The former Chelsea striker had only scored one Premier League goal before, despite having spells with Crystal Palace, Norwich, Burnley and Middlesbrough when they were in the top flight.
Bamford has proven his doubters wrong this season, though. He has scored 12 goals and provided five assists for Leeds in the Premier League so far.
His latest goal, against Crystal Palace on Monday, was the 100th of his career across all competitions. It was a landmark moment for an in-form player.
The 27-year-old, who had only reached double figures of goals in three seasons prior to joining Leeds, has now proven himself at the top level. There have even been rumours of an England call-up for the player capped twice at under-21 level.
With his credentials no longer in question, Bamford has come in for praise from a former opponent.
Hutton played against the Grantham-born attacker on a number of occasions in the Championship. The former Aston Villa defender believes Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has inspired Bamford to increase his work rate, which is paying off.
“He’s really kind of went from strength to strength,” Hutton told soccer Insider.
“I think there were a lot of questions hanging over his head at the start of the season, would he be good enough, would he be able to step up and that’s exactly what he’s done.
“Yes, he’s missed a couple of opportunities, as a striker you’re going to. But I think when you’re in a team like Leeds who create that many chances and love to play on the front foot, get forward and press high, you’re going to get opportunities.
“I’m actually happy for him. He’s went and done really well and they’re now talking about England call-ups. Is there a possibility of him sneaking into the squad? We’ll find out more in March.
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Bielsa to thank for improvements
“He was always technically very good. His ability was always there and I think what Bielsa’s done to him is he’s working very hard.
“Even if he doesn’t score, he always gives you that work rate, that tenacity to close down. I think that’s what’s different, that’s what I see as a difference.
“I think that’s what Bielsa demands, that high work rate. You see how they press from the front and he actually starts the press and then everyone follows in behind him.
“Maybe in previous years he didn’t do that when he was out on loan from Chelsea. He was just seen as more of a striker and it didn’t quite work. I think now that he’s added that to his game, he’s went up a level.”
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