In a recent interview, former Leeds United forward Noel Whelan discussed Joe Gelhardt’s chances of becoming the surprise replacement for Patrick Bamford on Friday if the latter cannot get over his knock.
Since joining Leeds from Wigan Athletic last summer, Gelhardt has been in rather remarkable form for the club’s U23 side, scoring eight goals and providing three assists over his 14 appearances in the Premier League 2.
Although, with Patrick Bamford picking up an injury in the club’s recent 0-0 draw with Chelsea, and, at present, the 27-year-old remaining a slight doubt for the upcoming clash with Fulham, Gelhardt could theoretically be in line to replace the striker in Bielsa’s starting XI.
However, speaking recently to Football Insider, Whelan claimed that he couldn’t imagine the 18-year-old being thrown in at the deep end by Bielsa this Friday, suggesting that Rodrigo could be played in a more advanced role instead.
He said: “I’m not sure if he will [start]. We’ll probably see him more on the bench, but while we still need points to guarantee safety, I can’t see that actually happening.
“I think you’ve got to go for experience and tried and trusted players in Rodrigo and Tyler Roberts, depending on which way they want to play it and which way round they want it.
“It’ll be hard to justify a £29 million player sitting on the bench for a teenager who hasn’t had any game time for Leeds United.
“It’s a massive loss losing Patrick and it was a massive risk. We knew that from two years ago when he was our only striker and he’s done so well not getting injured until now.”
Do you think Gelhardt should start against Fulham?
Transfer Tavern Take
Indeed, considering Bielsa’s apparent reluctance to field Gelhardt previously this season, it would be a surprising turn of events if the 65-year-old suddenly changes his mind and opts to throw the teenager in from the start against Fulham.
However, considering how impressive Gelhardt has been for the U23 side this term, perhaps he does deserve a chance in the first team, something which would also bring the benefit of allowing Bamford more time to recover from his knock.
In other news: Leeds are ‘thinking seriously’ about making this key addition – find out more here!
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