Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa should have fielded Rodrigo from the start against West Ham.
That is according to ex-Leeds player and lifelong fan Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after the £26million summer signing was brought on for the last half-hour in the 2-0 defeat.
It was the 30-year-old’s first senior match since January when he was sidelined with a groin injury.
He has since made a goalscoring return for the under-23 side, netting twice in a 2-0 victory over Wolves on Friday.
Kalvin Phillips also returned from a four-match layoff against West Ham, though unlike Rodrigo, Bielsa elected to play him from the start.
Whelan was pleased to see Rodrigo reintroduced but insists that if Phillips was fit enough to start than Rodrigo should have been handled in the same manner.
“I was very happy about him getting some minutes, I really was,” he told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs.
“He’s going to get better. He was a little bit rusty. You could see that with some of the passing.
“It’s alright going out there and scoring two goals against the 23s but that tempo is not the same that you’re going to be coming up against West Ham.
“He looked lively, he’s intelligent, he likes to get between the lines. He’s one of the players that when he gets on the ball you expect something to happen. You expect him to pick the right pass.
“I just think if you’re fit enough to be on the bench then you’re fit enough to start the game. Kalvin Phillips has no under-23 games and went straight back in.”
Rodrigo has played 23 times for Leeds since signing in the summer, scoring five goals and registering one assist.
Rodrigo has earned 25 times caps for Spain and will be hoping to impress manager Luis Enrique ahead of this summer’s European Championship.