Noel Whelan: I'm concerned about the form of this key Leeds first-teamer
By Harry Sykes
Noel Whelan has revealed he is “concerned” about the away form of Leeds playmaker Pablo Hernandez.
The Spaniard played 82 minutes of Leeds’ 3-1 Championship victory against Birmingham at St Andrews on Friday night before he was replaced by Kemar Roofe.
Hernandez, 31, is a regular in the first team and is a nailed-on starter when fully fit and available for selection.
Ex-Leeds striker Whelan is a big admirer of the Spanish attacking midfielder but is worried about his effectiveness away from Elland Road.
“I think it’s more Hernandez’s away form that is the concern. Tonight, it just didn’t seem to click for him. I don’t know if it’s a confidence thing, but he was still brave and asking for the ball, even though he wasn’t having the best game – that’s all you can ask for,” said Whelan to BBC Radio Leeds after the match, as quoted by the BBC live match blog (Friday, 10.09pm).
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“I know his creative side brings so much to the party, but I would like to see him challenging for the ball more – you need that from everyone when games are getting physical.”
Hernandez was not the only Leeds forward-thinking player to struggle at Birmingham even though the scoreline suggests an impressive attacking display.
Chris Wood continued his sensational scoring run with a double and substitute Alfonso Pedraza secured the points with a late, cool finish.
But the likes of Souleymane Doukara and Stuart Dallas struggled to influence the match, while central midfielder Eunan O’Kane was also below par.
Nevertheless, Leeds consolidated their place in the play-off spots and are fourth in the Championship with a haul of 64 points from 35 league matches, just seven adrift of Brighton in the second automatic promotion spot.
In other Leeds transfer news, the club are to pounce and re-sign a 23-year-old after a £10million transfer is all but sealed.