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Leeds United should pursue permanent deal for Matthew Pennington
Friday, 16th Feb 2018 14:06 by @LucasMonk_

The Everton loanee has been one of our most dependable and dutiful performers in recent matches…

With the present campaign nearing its end - there are only 15 Championship fixtures remaining for all but two of the division’s clubs - Leeds United could be forgiven for already formulating stratagems for next season; and one of the key priorities at Elland Road should be securing Matthew Pennington on a permanent contract. The central defender, who can also be deployed as a right-back, has featured intermittently for Leeds since signing on loan from Premier League outfit Everton last summer - but has also emerged as one of our team’s most reliable and conscientious players in recent weeks.

As ardent supporters, we’re tribally averse to defeat - but there are multifarious instances in which much can be learned from being marginally worsted or comprehensively humbled. The recent defeats to Millwall, Cardiff City and Sheffield United were such instances. After each of those otherwise doleful losses, we were able to find solace in Pennington’s defensive displays.

Amidst rampant chaos, the Warrington-born 23-year-old exuded composure in possession and self-assurance in defensive scenarios, briskly striding into the Millwall and Cardiff halves on numerous occasions and denying Billy Sharp a facile headed goal last weekend with a crucial interception at the last. His equable disposition has put many of his more experienced teammates - Gaetano Berardi, Liam Cooper and Eunan O’Kane, for example - to shame.

The statistics are congruous with this argument. After coming on as a substitute against Millwall, Pennington recorded a WhoScored statistical rating of 6.91 - a rating higher than those of Cooper, Berardi and Laurens De Bock. His excellence in the case of the Cardiff debacle was made clear by his rating of 7.22, which transcended the ratings of all his teammates. Against Sheffield United, he was less remarkable, recording a rating of 6.76, but he still won an impressive six defensive aerial duels.

It’s thus patently clear for all to see that despite his relative inexperience of the division - he lists Tranmere Rovers, Coventry City and Walsall as erstwhile loan clubs and made a combined 46 League One appearances for the trio - he has been one of Leeds’ most metronomic performers of late after finally being accorded a consistent sequence of starts.

Some may express concern about his dearth of Championship experience but, whilst his defensive counterparts have been playing football as erratically as Black Friday shoppers forage for bargains every November, he has cut a confident, composed and cool figure and, such has been the quality of his recent showings, must surely now be considered worthy of regular first-team football at Elland Road.

It’s for that reason, then, that Leeds should be anxious to conclude a permanent deal for the precocious defender come the next transfer window.

Photo: Action Images

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