The Premier League elite are desperate for Leeds United to get promoted this season because of the size of the club and their fanbase, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Whites striker claimed the big guns would prefer Leeds to go up than even Aston Villa, another Championship promotion hopeful with a grand history and excellent support.

The Yorkshire giants are well placed to secure automatic promotion with four matches remaining, with their haul of 82 points putting them in second, three ahead of Sheffield United in third.

Villa are fifth in the table after a run of eight consecutive wins catapulted them into promotion contention via the end-of-season play-offs.

Asked which club in the Championship the Premier League clubs want to go up, Whelan exclusively told Football Insider: “There’s a lot of football to be played, there’s some great teams in the play off positions right now, loads of teams getting momentum right now, like Aston Villa.

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“If you asked so many clubs in the Premier League now, who would you want – Leeds United, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a big fixture when you see it on a TV screen, and they fill up the away end of all the stadiums they visit. Got to get there first.”

Leeds are next in action tomorrow (Friday), when they host Wigan Athletic at Elland Road.

Villa are aiming for what would be a remarkable ninth consecutive league win when they travel to Bolton Wanderers in a match that is likely to confirm the 23rd-placed club’s relegation.

In other Leeds United news, the club are closing in on a JAWDROPPING £177million windfall after developments this week.