Noel Whelan has heaped praise on Leeds United teenager Max Dean and tipped him to earn his first professional contract with the club imminently.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Whites forward claimed the 17-year-old is a “very exciting young player” with “fantastic energy, enthusiasm and quality”.

Dean has been in electric form for Leeds’ youth sides this season, with his nine appearances for the Under-23s yielding six goals and one assist.

Only Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood, both a few years his senior, have scored more for Mark Jackson’s side this year.

The centre-forward, who is still only a scholar at Elland Road, celebrated his 17th birthday on Sunday and is now eligible for a pro contract.

When asked for his assessment of Dean’s future, Whelan told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs:

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“There is absolutely no doubt that this boy gets a professional contract.

“He is a very, very exciting young player. He is a joy to watch – fantastic energy, enthusiasm and quality to go along with that.

“I have absolutely no doubt that Leeds United will be tying this young man down to a pro deal.

“Dean is going to go from strength to strength. He is learning a lot from the players around him already, we are seeing him grow.

“To see these young players playing the way they are playing is amazing, it really is.”

In other news, Leeds United have set their sights on signing a Lille powerhouse who was the subject of a £35million bid from Newcastle.