By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

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Garry Monk’s first two signings must be to secure Lewis Cook and Charlie Taylor to new Leeds contracts, according to Noel Whelan.

The ex-Elland Road striker is unimpressed that the Championship giants have allowed the club’s two prize assets to have just over 12 months remaining on their deals.

Whelan is concerned 19-year-old midfielder Cook and 22-year-old left-back Taylor could follow Sam Byram by running down their contract and leaving for cut-price fees.

Academy graduate Bryam left Elland Road in January to join West Ham for £3.7million.

Like Bryam, Cook and Taylor have also graduated from the Leeds academy to become mainstays of the team and they were two of the outstanding players in their positions in the second tier in 2015/16 in what was another underwhelming campaign for the club.

Whelan believes these are crucial issues for the club following the appointment last week of new manager Monk.

“In my eyes, it is important that he gets his first ‘signings’ completed now, namely securing the long-term futures of both Cook and Taylor,” wrote the former striker in his Yorkshire Evening Post column on Monday.

“They should be his first priorities for Leeds. They are the type of players who I think Garry can improve and I think they will do very, very well for him.

“I think he will have good man-management skills and a rapport with the kids here.

“Garry did a very good job at Swansea and I think he will be a manager who will get the best out of all the young lads coming through the academy.”

As reported by Football Insider, Taylor has emerged as a target for Liverpool as they look to sign a new left-back this summer.

Cook is also being monitored by a number of Premier League and Championship clubs.

In other Leeds news, a 35-year-old has emerged as the new odds-on favourite to be the club’s next manager.