Noel Whelan expects Leeds United youngster Lewis Bate to make his first-team debut ‘sooner rather than later’.
The former Whites forward was discussing the 18-year-old’s prospects with Football Insider.
Leeds beat the likes of Liverpool, Leicester City and West Ham United to the signature of Bate back in July. He penned a four-year contract on his arrival at Elland Road (via The Athletic).
So far this season, all of Bate’s football has come at youth level. He’s made seven Premier League 2 appearances and also had an outing in the EFL Trophy (via Transfermarkt).
He may have been expected to feature for the first team in the domestic cups, but he’s been overlooked for the recent games against Crewe Alexandra and Fulham.
Other members of the Under-23 squad, like Charlie Cresswell and Crysencio Summerville, have featured for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the early part of the campaign.
Whelan says he felt at the outset that Bate’s path to the senior side would be swift.
He explained that Leeds will want their established midfielders to be aware of the extra competition.
“To come to Leeds, I felt this was another signing which we could see, probably, making his breakthrough into the first team sooner rather than later,” he told FI.
“Whether that’s on the bench, he’s a good young player doing good things in the under-23s.
“That’s what you want to do. You want players coming in, catching the eye of the manager and putting pressure on the first team.”
It looks as if Leeds are adopting a patient, cautious approach with Bate, and that’s fine.
He needs ample time to prepare himself given that there are few coaches who demand more of their players than Marcelo Bielsa.
Fans will hope, however, that he doesn’t find himself in a similar position to Joe Gelhardt, who can’t seem to get his chance despite his starring performances at Under-23 level.
In other news, read this journalist’s intriguing Diego Martinez claim.
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