Joe Gelhardt is living up to comparisons with Wayne Rooney and will soon be handed his Leeds United debut.
That is according to ex-Leeds striker and boyhood fan Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Patrick Bamford pointed out the similarities between the youngster and Manchester United and England’s record goalscorer.
He told the Official Leeds United Podcast: “He reminds me – I don’t want to say the same level as Rooney – but he is the same kind of build as Rooney was. A stocky lad, great finisher.”
The 18-year-old signed for Leeds from Wigan Athletic in the summer for a fee of around £1million.
The Liverpool-born striker is yet to make his senior debut for Leeds but has been named on the bench in each of the last five league matches.
Whelan insists that Gelhardt has all the makings of a young Rooney and is getting ever closer to a first Whites appearance.
He told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “That is some praise, absolutely. This is why we brought him into the football club.
“I think it will be very soon that he’ll get his first opportunity. I think he’ll be putting pressure on Tyler Roberts.
“Rodrigo is still not back to 100% fitness so maybe he deserves an opportunity in that role.
“He’s a great one for the future. I hear only good things from fans about how exciting he is and how good he is on the ball and his eye for goal. That’s all the characteristics of Wayne Rooney.
“But that is a big name to assess himself against right now. Now, he just needs to establish himself in this Leeds United side.”
Gelhardt made 21 senior appearances for Wigan, scoring his first goal as a 17-year-old against Hull City in September 2019.
He has also represented England at Under-18 level, scoring three goals in six appearances.