Noel Whelan has been thrilled by Leeds United youngster Joe Gelhardt’s application in pre-season training ahead of the upcoming season.
The Lowdown: Leeds United gear up for 2021/22
Looking ahead to 2021/22, many onlookers up and down the country will be eager to see whether Marcelo Bielsa’s men can improve on their impressive ninth-placed finish last term.
New acquisitions will be key to prospective improvement, with the Whites already busy in the transfer market following the signings of Amari Miller and Jack Harrison permanently. However, the young talent coming through Thorp Arch could also have a role to play for the Yorkshiremen.
Should Gelhardt be given more first-team opportunites at LUFC?
The Latest: Whelan lavishes praise on ‘hungry’ Gelhardt
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Football Insider, BBC pundit Whelan was particularly complimentary regarding Gelhardt. Talking up the 19-year-old’s chances of gaining first team recognition in the coming months, the former Leeds striker said:
“It’s dedication, that desire, that hunger when the season is finished.
“Give yourself a bit of downtime but not that much. You know straight away you want to hit the ground running when you come back.
“They’ll see that this kid is a hungry kid who really wants to start pushing. He’s definitely got the talent, there’s no doubt about that.
“You want to be ahead of the players that have been playing, you want to test your Bamford’s, your Rodrigo’s.
“Really, you want to be pushing them. They had a great under-23 season last year but that’s not where he wants to play this year.
“I think every under-23 that’s there would love to be part of the first-team squad.”
The Verdict: Gelhardt should be given more first team opportunities
Whelan rightly points out the need for Gelhardt to be given first team opportunities within a senior environment at Elland Road.
In 2020/21, he enjoyed a fantastic season in the Whites’ under-23 setup, producing 14 goal contributions from 16 Premier League 2 Division 2 outings with 11 goals and three assists [Transfermarkt]. He duly helped his side to gain promotion to the Premier League 2 Division 1, the highest level of developmental football in England [SB Nation].
Equally capable of operating behind the striker as a secondary forward or attacking midfielder, there is scope that Gelhardt can challenge for a debut in the first team during the next few months.
Leeds should use the forthcoming pre-season programme to afford the 19-year-old a platform to impress ahead of 2021/22.
In other news, one of Leeds United’s rivals have been left ‘stunned’ after the Whites gazumped their reported transfer pursuit.
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