Leeds send ‘a lot of U-23s and some U-18s’ to Myanmar

Date published: Tuesday 8th May 2018 3:11

Leeds have included only a handful of first-team regulars in a 22-man squad for their controversial trip to Myanmar.

The Sky Bet Championship club are scheduled to play a Myanmar national league All-Stars XI in Yangon on Wednesday before facing the national team in Mandalay on Friday.

“It’s a mixture of a few boys who featured (on Sunday), a lot of 23s and some 18s,” said Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom after his side’s final-day win against QPR at the weekend.

“Me going to Myanmar, I’m not there for the football. I’m there for the club and for the team and the players, to get to know them more, to push them to understand what it’s like being in a first-team environment and for them to feel a bit more comfortable around us.”

Samuel Saiz, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalvin Phillips, Caleb Ekuban, Luke Ayling and Bailey Peacock-Farrell have flown out with the club, while the rest of the squad is made up of academy players.

Other players to have featured for the first team this season – Andy Lonergan, Tyler Denton, Tom Pearce, Jay-Roy Grot and Ryan Edmondson – have also travelled.

But Pablo Hernandez returned to Spain last week for the birth of his second child and Liam Cooper, set to become a new father shortly, Pontus Jansson and Gjanni Alioski are among those who have not.

Jansson will soon be preparing for next month’s World Cup with Sweden, while Alioski is set for international duty with Macedonia.

Eunan O’Kane, Felix Wiedwald, Kemar Roofe, Laurens De Bock, Gaetano Berardi and Hadi Sacko have not made the trip, while injured players Stuart Dallas, Vurnon Anita, Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts and Conor Shaughnessy have also been left at home.

Leeds’ plans for the trip were met by a storm of protest when announced at the end of last month.

Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Amnesty International and a large numbers of Leeds fans urged the club to cancel the trip for ethical reasons.

Myanmar’s governing regime has been accused of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims and Leeds’ critics branded the tour as “morally corrupt”.

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