Daniel Farke ommit specials names as he drops Leeds United major debut selection for Cardiff City opener

Archie Gray is awaiting his senior Leeds United debut though he may not have to wait too much longer based on Daniel Farke’s latest comments.

Age will be no barrier to Archie Gray finally taking hold of Leeds United’s first team in the way many at the club have been predicting for years, according to Daniel Farke. Inside the club, Gray’s ascent has long been foreseen, but the penny finally dropped for the wider world in November 2021.

Marcelo Bielsa had taken a 15-year-old Gray along to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League as a part of the travelling party. While he did not make the bench on that occasion, it was a firm statement of how close the youth really was to the sharp end.

Archie Gray has seen his influence strengthen at Leeds United this summer (Image: Simon Davies/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock)

Twenty months have passed since then. Bielsa has gone. Jesse Marsch, Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce have all been and gone. United have been relegated, but it’s opened the door on the 17-year-old.

“We will see,” he said. “I’m not willing to praise young lads too early because this is what many people do and then they forget about them, to let them play and also to develop them. I know I’ve got a reputation to bring many young players through.

“I like to work with young players. I’m never scared, once they are ready, to play them and this is always my philosophy. I’m not about age.

“If the 17 or 18-year-old guy is ready, he plays, it’s as simple as that, but if you want to be ambitious, you need also a proper core group of players. Also with Archie, I’m pleased with him so far.”

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What has been striking about Gray since the pre-season return is his visible growth spurt. He is tall, broad and strong, in no way bossed by any of the competitors he has faced this summer.

Farke has praised Gray’s thirst for progression on the training field, but reiterated nothing has been decided in a series of friendlies.

Leeds United seeing hard work pay off as Daniel Farke makes his mark

“He’s in a really good shape, he’s physically in a good condition,” said Farke. “He has showed some really good performances in pre-season, but I also saw, in many games, what he has to improve, where he has to improve.

“What I like about him is he’s willing to learn, he is greedy to get input and depth to the stuff we give him, but, again, I just can’t bring him to the door and can work with him. He has to make a step through the door and he’s on a good path, but it’s pre-season so far.

“Not one proper game is played so I’m not willing to praise them too early.”