Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has praised the vision of a club which has propelled Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling into the debate over England selection.
Striker Bamford is being tipped to be included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland when it is named on Thursday, while full-back Ayling has also been mentioned in dispatches.
The inclusion of either would represent an acknowledgement of how well promoted Leeds and their players have taken to life in the Premier League and asked about the speculation, Bielsa saluted the pair, but also the vision of chairman Andrea Radrizzani and director of football Victor Orta.
He said: “It’s a recognition, first of all, for the players, and secondly it’s recognition for the project of the club, the structure of the squad to compete in the Premier League.
“It’s a project that’s been developed by the president of the club, the sporting director and the technical staff, the president of the club, because he is the visible head of the club because he’s the one that picks the sporting director and the technical staff.
“After, the sporting director chooses and the players compete, and to be able to compete in the Premier League is what opens up the possibilities, and they do it within a team.
“It’s an achievement that makes the player proud and it shows that the proposition that their club made or that they hoped for was the correct one.”
Former Chelsea and Middlesbrough frontman Bamford in particular has taken to the top flight with relative ease and his 13 goals to date this season have edged him into the international spotlight.
The 27-year-old limped out of Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea, which left the West Yorkshire club in 12th place in the table, but is expected to take his place in the squad for Friday night’s trip to Fulham.
Bielsa said: “We think that yes, he will play on Friday. He has a knock on his hip that is painful, but we don’t think that it’s going to make him miss the game.”
Asked about Bamford’s strengths, he added: “Bamford contributes goals, he makes runs and marks, he runs in behind, he has presence in the box, he has combativeness to recover the ball and he has continuity in his participation throughout the game.”
Ayling has been touted as a surprise inclusion amid uncertainty over Kieran Trippier’s availability and injuries and while former Argentina and Chile boss Bielsa refused to put pressure on Southgate, he was full of praise for the 29-year-old defender.
He said: “He’s one of the players that has shone the most in our team. He’s a player that can play out wide or in the centre in a back four or a back three with a capacity to attack and a good aerial game, and with good management of the ball in terms of combination and first pass.”