By Alex McLeish

17th Sep, 2021 | 9:30am

McLeish verdict on 'exceptional' Hjelde starting for Leeds v Newcastle after BBC update

Alex McLeish claims it is too early for Leo Hjelde to be thrown into the Leeds starting 11 amid a defensive injury crisis.

The former manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, reacted to the latest Whites injury news.

BBC Sport report Leeds will be without Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk for Friday’s trip to Newcastle.

Llorente and Koch are injured while Struijk remains suspended after his appeal against the red card handed to him last week was rejected.

This leaves Liam Cooper as the only senior centre back available to Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds signed Hjelde, 18, from Celtic this summer and he has made one appearance for their Under 23 side this season.

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McLeish insists Friday’s game is too early for Hjelde to make his senior debut and tipped Luke Ayling to shift across the defence.

“If the young player isn’t ready it’s hard to throw him in,” McLeish told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams.

“My guess is that Leeds will go around the houses and look at who can fill that hole the best.

“Ayling played there last season, I can’t think they would throw the youngster straight in there.

“Unless they have seen something exceptional in him. It’s time to introduce him in a small way, maybe in the cups and things.

“I suspect they will move the defence about and put one of the wide players in there.”

Newcastle are the only team to have conceded more goals than Leeds in the Premier League this season.

Both teams also go into Friday’s game without a league win on the board.

In other news, Leeds chief Radrizanni told to stay in the stands and ‘be quiet’ after Sky outburst – pundit.