By Noel Whelan

11th Dec, 2021 | 8:45pm

Leeds 17-yr-old in line for first-team promotion after Bamford update - Whelan

Noel Whelan has suggested Max Dean could be in line for a senior promotion at Leeds United due to Patrick Bamford’s injury blow.

The former Leeds striker and club ambassador, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 17-year-old is catching the eye for the Whites’ under-18s and under-23s this term.

As revealed on Thursday (9 December), Bamford suffered a hamstring injury against Brentford last weekend after returning from an ankle problem.

He failed to recover for Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Chelsea, with Dan James chosen to lead the line.

Joe Gelhardt, who scored the equaliser to make it 2-2, was the only centre-forward among the substitutes.

As such, Whelan suggested Bielsa may promote Dean to the first-team squad.

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Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “As they always say, age is just number. He is one exciting player that, right now, is really progressing very quickly and very positively in the under-23s.

“There’s no doubt that people are excited about him. At 17-years-old, playing with the under-23s, he doesn’t look out of place.

“What a talent -he’s got the stature, got the energy, got the talent. This is what we want from the under-23s, that pressure on the first team. People excelling in the under-23s to turn the head of Marcelo Bielsa.

“Maybe he’ll give them the opportunity. It doesn’t matter about age. If you’re good enough, you get the opportunity.

“A player that is exciting, people are excited and looking to see more of him and somebody that is there and willing, if needed.

“I’m sure he’s champing at the bit for an opportunity. We’ve got a string of injuries. He’s put himself in a really good position to be part of the squad.”

Dean has scored three goals in eight appearances for Leeds’ under-23s.

He was at the double for the under-18s in Tuesday’s FA Youth Cup win over Coventry City.

In other news, Football Insider’s injury expert has delivered the lowdown on Phillips’ “extensive muscle damage” at Leeds United.