By Noel Whelan

11th Jan, 2020 | 10:33am

'Massive' - Exclusive: Whelan delighted with 'Huge' early Leeds team news v Sheff Wed

Noel Whelan admits he is over the moon to hear that Leeds United star Pablo Hernandez is in contention to start against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

The former Leeds striker and lifelong fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says the Spaniard’s return to fitness is a huge boost for Marcelo Bielsa and his men ahead of a Yorkshire derby.

The Whites boss confirmed at his press conference that both Hernandez and midfielder Jamie Shackleton were both available for selection after their respective injury layoffs.

Whelan says that the early team news is a great boost for his boyhood side,

“It’s a massive boost and it’s come at a great time,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“Obviously we expected Pablo to be out a little longer than he has been but it’s a massive bonus to have him back. Will he go straight into the side? I would probably think so, in a number 10 capacity.

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“It’s a huge boost for Leeds because this back end of the season is going to be so important now so hopefully we can now try keep him fit.”

Hernandez has played 17 times for Leeds this season, scoring three goals and chipping in with four assists, but has already missed chunks of the season as a result of fitness problems.

He was sidelined for six games between September and November, while he has sat out the club’s last three games since limping off early against Fulham.

In other Leeds United news, Football Insider can reveal the club’s fierce rivals have set sights on signing two of their star players.