Darren Bent has lauded the Leeds United squad for going “above and beyond” after a reliable journalist made the extraordinary claim they are even fitter now than three months ago.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Tottenham and Derby star claims Marcelo Bielsa would have had incredibly high expectations for his players despite the lockdown.

With training back underway at Thorp Arch, The Athletic journalist Phil Hay reports that every single player beat their pre-lockdown stats when put through running and fitness sessions by Bielsa and his coaches.

Bent believes the demands on the Leeds player will have been set extremely high by the coaching and fitness staff and he has heralded them for returning in top shape.

Bent told Football Insider: “You know what Bielsa’s like, he’s worked his players so, so hard during the season and I’m sure while they were off they would have been given a really, really rigorous off-season programme.

“It would have been very, very hard but it’s testament to the players that they’ve gone and executed that because they obviously know the level that Bielsa expects. 

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“They know if they want to be part of the team, they’ve got to hit these levels so probably more than not they’ve gone above and beyond to make sure they hit these levels and these are the results that you get.

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit with this squad they’re hitting these results because they’ve always been a very, very fit squad anyway.”

Leeds currently sit top of the Championship table by a single point.

There are nine games left to play for Bielsa and his men, including a clash against Fulham at Elland Road.

In other Leeds United news, Noel Whelan has been left raving after what he has heard about the club’s striker target.