Quality, not quantity, key to Leeds United’s promotion hopes

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FORMER Leeds United left back Ben Parker has not celebrated many hat-tricks in his career.

But promotion to the National League with Harrogate Town has now sealed a very memorable treble for the footballer who is toasting his third promotion after climbing out of League One with Leeds and National League North with Guiseley.

Yet eight years after helping United out of English football’s third tier, Parker wants to celebrate a ‘fourth promotion’ as a fan and see the Leeds team he supports finally seal a place back in the Premier League.

Parker made 55 appearances for the Whites between 2006 and 2011 but his affinity with the club runs much deeper, the defender initially signing for Leeds when he was just eight years old in 1995 during the halcyon days of the Premier League.

A top-flight return is one which Parker yearns to see sooner rather than later and he believes that signing key targets such as Abel Hernandez and Kyle Bartley will be crucial to United’s cause.

There is no hiding the importance of this summer as Leeds continue talks with Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa about taking the vacant managerial role at Elland Road.

As a player, if you are sat in the dressing room and you see those players’ names come into a squad, it does give everybody a lift.

Former Leeds United player, Ben Parker

On the playing side, Hull City striker Hernandez and Swansea centre-back Bartley are two of the club’s key targets and Parker believes landing both is crucial.

“I think they would be great signings and a great signal of intent to the fans,” said Parker. “As a player as well, if you are sat in the dressing room and you see those players’ names come into a squad, it does give everybody a lift.

“And they are not squad players. Hernandez is a proven goalscorer at this level and we all know about Kyle Bartley and what he brought to the table.

“He was fantastic when he was there on loan and all of a sudden, if two people like that come in, you start rebuilding the spine of your team and you can add people around.

“It’s easier said then done getting those people over the line because Leeds are not going to be the only club interested, but it’s vital they add those type of players. Kyle knows what the club is like and you are not going to play for a bigger club outside of the Premier League. The fanbase is fantastic still and the club sells itself.”

Parker eventually left United in April 2012 with the defender then working as a radio pundit before eventually joining Guiseley and then Harrogate Town and enjoying promotion to the National League with both.

This summer has seen the defender enjoy a double celebration with the left-back and his fiance Laura tying the knot last weekend. It means good times for the 30-year-old, who believes another celebration will be not too far away if Leeds focus on recruting quality rather than quantity this summer.

“If Leeds can invest in three or four quality players that’s going to cost quite a bit of money for each one,” added Parker. “But that would be exciting for everyone.

“It would show that they are trying to have an ambition of getting in there rather than just signing 10 or 15 players who come in to the fill the squad up.

“Leeds don’t want to be looking to do that – they want to be looking to kick on and try and get in the play-offs as a minimum requirement.”