Leeds United opinion: Whites should look at Johnstone as a future prospect
According to Leeds Live, Leeds United have taken 20-year-old goalkeeper Max Johnstone on trial as a part of their squad for the pre-season friendlies, with the youngster featuring between the sticks in the Whites’ latest 5-1 friendly triumph over non-league side Tadcaster Albion.
Leeds Live understands that the Elland Road outfit are looking to make an assessment of Johnstone’s development over the coming weeks and a decision to offer him a deal will then be made accordingly.
The same report claims that highly-rated Whites shot-stopper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has attracted interest from Premier League side Burnley, with the Northern Irish international admitting to claims that he would be open to the prospect of a move elsewhere in the near future.
Johnstone, who is currently a free agent following his release from Sunderland earlier in the summer, was previously on the books of Man United until the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
He never made a first-team appearance for the Red Devils, though, and largely spent time with the U-18 and U-23 sides at Old Trafford.
The 20-year-old’s fortunes didn’t change much after completing a move to Sunderland in League One last summer, as the talented goalkeeper failed to challenge the established Jon McLaughlin for a role in the first-team.
Instead, he spent time with the U-23 side in the Premier League 2 and made 7 appearances, conceding an unimpressive 20 goals in the process.
The Preston-born shot-stopper, who is the brother of West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, is yet to make his senior professional debut in English football. That, however, hasn’t stopped Leeds from pursuing a keen interest in the 20-year-old and the Whites are prepared to test him out in the upcoming fixtures.
To put things into perspective, Leeds are probably not looking at Max Johnstone as someone who could possibly challenge the likes of Peacock-Farrell and Kiko Casilla for the No.1 role in the Championship next season.
Even if a move does materialize, the 20-year-old is likely to initially link up with the elite development side in West Yorkshire and then it will be up to him to break into the first-team picture.
Indeed, the Whites need to look at more talented shot-stoppers in the market because they haven’t had much luck with their options between the sticks over the past twelve months or so.
Chelsea loanee Jamal Blackman was brought in last summer to provide cover and competition but he returned to his parent club after suffering a dreadful injury, thus allowing Peacock-Farrell to play as the undisputed No.1 in the first half of the previous campaign.
The Northern Irishman was far from convincing though, and despite putting up some really fine performances, the youngster came under scrutiny for some uncharacteristic errors.
Kiko Casilla, who was brought in from Real Madrid in January, looked shaky right from the word go and the Spaniard was one of the villains behind Leeds’ decapitulation in the play-off semi-finals against Derby County.
Marcelo Bielsa, of course, has the luxury of calling upon the likes of academy products Kamil Miazek and Will Huffer, given that both the players made matchday squad appearances in the Championship last season.
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Hence, if Leeds do end up promoting the likes of Huffer and Miazek to the first-team, someone like Max Johnstone would fill in the void left by them in the development squad.
All in all, the fans at Elland Road won’t be too excited with the speculations regarding the trialist but signing the youngster for free could prove to be a smart piece of business for the club, nevertheless.