DANIEL Farke has warned York-raised defender Charlie Cresswell that he will be out of the first-team picture at Leeds United until he is ready to fight for his place in the squad.

The Whites boss admitted that he had seen the 21-year-old frustrated at a lack of game time and therefore would not be selecting him until he is “mentally ready” to return – with the ball firmly in the youngster’s court.

Cresswell, who signed a new four-year contract with the West Yorkshire club last summer, featured in Leeds’ opening two Sky Bet Championship matches against Cardiff City and Birmingham City in August but has fallen behind in the pecking order at Elland Road.

His last appearance for his boyhood club came against Queens Park Rangers back at the start of October, and he has only been included in three matchday squads since – with Ethan Ampadu picked ahead of him in their Emirates FA Cup triumph at Peterborough United, and Saturday's Sky Bet Championship victory at Cardiff City.

Despite Cresswell, who is the son of former York City and Tadcaster Albion striker Richard, establishing himself as a regular starter for loan club Millwall last term, Farke explained to Leeds Live that one of his first decisions had been not to send him back out on loan.

“I want Charlie to be one of the four centre-backs,” he said. “He’s a great character, he’s one of our own, a young player and a good player with potential. 

“It’s the reason why we gave him a long contract and his wish for the shirt number (5).

“My decision was then that I played a lot with Joe Rodon and Pascal Struijk, and also Liam Cooper because he’s our club captain and experienced. Liam has repaid my trust whenever I needed him. 

“It ended up with Charlie being our number four centre-back, and you could sense that Charlie was not overly happy with this situation. 

“Sometimes he was travelling with us and it was a little bit like he’s not really switched on and focused. 

“We spoke openly and honestly about this and he said, ‘Listen boss, I totally appreciate everything but for me it’s difficult. I’m not happy to be centre-back number four. I want to be top two. I rate myself as a starter’.

“It makes no sense if you’re not fully committed. He’s professional, never a problem with him, but it’s not like he’s fully committed. It was more like, ‘What am I doing here? I want to start’.

"I totally see why, but I have to make the decisions for Leeds United.”

York Press: Cresswell featured for Leeds at the start of the campaign, but has not played a minute for the Elland Road side since early October.Cresswell featured for Leeds at the start of the campaign, but has not played a minute for the Elland Road side since early October. (Image: Nigel French/PA)

As for where Cresswell’s future lies amid interest in the January transfer window, Leeds would be open to considering a move for the young defender.

Fellow Championship clubs Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough and Blackburn are all interested in the 6ft 3ins defender’s services, the Yorkshire Evening Post has reported.

“The ball is in his court,” Farke continued. 

“We spoke about it. I said ‘Listen, we use January right now. Either you find a solution, you want to play for a different club, or you come to me and tell me ‘I’m happy to be number four, totally committed and I know I have to wait for my chance.

“‘I have to work for it every day in training and when there is a chance, I’m excited and play with enthusiasm in order to make the next step, then to grab perhaps centre-back number three spot and then perhaps to be the starting line-up.’

“The ball is in his court and he won’t be picked for myself until he is mentally ready for this or there is a different solution.”

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However, Farke stressed that he would only consider a loan move for Cresswell if Leeds’ expectations were fulfilled, as he would not simply present the youngster as a gift to another club.

“I totally get Charlie’s points. We have a really good relationship, but the ball is in his court,” he reiterated.

“One thing is also for sure, we don’t present him as a gift and wrap him and give him to a club if the club doesn’t fulfil our expectations.

“We have spent so much time, energy and money in his development, in his education, also in his contract, and he’s a valuable player for us. 

“He’s one of our four centre-backs for Leeds United. That is a value and he judges himself even in the top two. So there is a value, it’s not like we can give him away for free. 

“Surely if he has this value, then there is a club who will reach our expectations.”