Noel Whelan has told Football Insider his fears that Leeds United’s failure to secure promotion would spark an end-of-season exodus.
United are second in the Championship with seven matches of the campaign remaining and well placed to end their 15-year spell in the lower leagues.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, our brilliant new columnist and lifelong Leeds fans Whelan explained how he is concerned at the prospect of losing rising stars Jack Clarke and Kalvin Phillips if they miss out on the holy grail.
Midfield anchorman Phillips has been an integral member of the side transformed by Marcelo Bielsa this season, while Clarke has emerged as the one of the most talented teenagers in English football.
“Everything depends upon promotion, that’s the worry” said Whelan, who covers all of Leeds’ matches as a pundit. “If we don’t get promotion I fear we will lose our best young players, like Jack Clarke and Kalvin Phillips.
“They have showed they are good enough to play in the Premier League and, if Leeds don’t get there next month, then they will probably head there anyway.”
Clarke, 18, has a contract at Leeds that runs until 2021 but he is one of the lowest earners in the senior squad and was the subject of extensive Premier League club interest in January.
Phillips, 23, is also out of contract in 2021 and, as revealed by Football Insider, Leeds are eager to tie him to a new deal at the end of the campaign.
In other Leeds United transfer news, the club are working on a deal to sign an international in the form of his life – but may need to get promoted to seal deal.