Bailey Peacock-Farrell keen to be number one at Leeds and Northern Ireland
GOALKEEPERS aren’t supposed to let anything slip but Bailey Peacock-Farrell dropped a heavy hint that his future lies away from Leeds United unless he plays regularly for them.
The 22-year-old has established himself as Northern Ireland’s number one over the past year – but he lost his starting place at Elland Road in 2019 to experienced Spaniard ‘Kiko’ Casilla.
Leeds, top of the Championship at Christmas, subsequently lost out on promotion in the play-off semi-finals to Derby County and ‘BPF’ doesn’t know if his career will continue in west Yorkshire.
Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed he will remain in charge for next season but, with only a year to go on his contract, Peacock-Farrell is unsure about himself:
“This year's going to be really strange. Honestly, I haven't got a clue. My contract is up next season, I've got this coming season left. They said they wanted to open discussions on a contract so I'm really looking forward to having discussions with them about a new contract.”
Many might be content to stay for another season and be able to leave on a free transfer next summer, but Bailey insists he wants to be out on the pitch, not on the bench:
“The aim is to be playing football, I have to, for selfish reasons. I’m not one of those goalkeepers who’s maybe content with sitting on the bench and picking up a wage.”
The Darlington lad knows that Leeds is a great club to be at, commenting: “If I’m staying at Leeds I don’t see that there’s anywhere other to play that’s better, unless, obviously, the Prem.
“Because when you look at the stature of Leeds, the level of club that it is, you can’t get anywhere better to play. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else out of choice, to a certain extent. Obviously if I’m not going to play at Leeds then I'll have to consider my options.”
The fact that the vastly experienced boss Bielsa is staying on is clearly a boost to Leeds, the young ’keeper agreed: “It's great to have the stability of the manager staying another year. At Leeds we've had a lot of managers who have come and gone.
“So to have a manager like Bielsa, with his pedigree, remain at the club is absolutely huge. You can see the progress that we have made under him and hopefully with him staying on as manager we can build on that next season.”
Peacock-Farrell accepts that he is impatient to become an established club number one, having had an amazing rise since his Northern Ireland debut just over a year ago as a substitute in a friendly in Panama:
“If you told me then that I would have played 40 games for Leeds and the Nations League with Northern Ireland and the [Euro 2020] qualifiers I'd be really happy with it - but in the moment you probably get greedy and want more.
“Everyone wants to play every single possible game. I feel like I'm making the right progress as a young ’keeper, the right number of games. I'm on an upward curve I can hopefully maintain. We've started the campaign off really, really well so hopefully we can continue that.”
Ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus over the next few days, he reacted cautiously to the suggestion that he’s now firmly NI’s number one, replying: “I dunno, that’s a hard one. Obviously I’ve played the most recently and I guess maybe you could say that.
“The more games I play I can only get better and hopefully that will establish that position as mine. That’s my aim, to secure that position and give no reason for it to be changed.
“Mentally, going into these games is fine because it's a refresh almost. Your form in the league kind of gets forgotten about when you come away.
“It's a different kind of vibe. It's a switch, you go into international mode, you focus and I'm fully focused on playing. Hopefully I get to play. That's what I enjoy the most”.