Noel Whelan has insisted Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi will “not cope” if the club are in the Premier League next season.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds striker claimed Berardi is not good enough to play in the England top flight.

The Switzerland international, 31, came on as a late substitute for Kalvin Phillips after staring on the bench in the 4-0 demolition of Middlesbrough today, just as he did in midweek as a result of Liam Cooper’s return to full fitness.

He has started five of United’s last 10 Championship matches due Cooper being afflicted by a series of niggling injuries and Whelan does not regard him as someone capable of playing up a level next season.

“Berardi won’t cope in the Premier League, simple as that,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“Leeds have handed out a lot of new contracts to players recently and have given them to players they think have something to offer going forward.

“If they felt Berardi could thrive in the Premier League, I’m sure he would have got a new contract by now. There’s no sign of that.

“His loyalty has been excellent and his performances have been good at times. But you can’t have players like Berardi in the Premier League.”

Berardi has made 12 appearances in all competitions for Leeds this season, and 142 in total for the club since signing from Sampdoria in 2014.

The third-choice centre-back is out of contract at Elland Road next June.

In other Leeds United news, Football Insider can reveal a major NEW Eddie Nketiah transfer development from today.