By Noel Whelan

1st Jan, 2020 | 7:30pm

'One of my biggest fears' - Exclusive: Noel Whelan frets over 'Massive concern' for Leeds

Noel Whelan admits that the inability to defend set-plays is a “massive concern” for Leeds United.

The former Leeds striker and lifelong fan of the club, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the Whites’ Achilles heel lies from set-pieces and that it has been that way for a number of years.

The Whites have conceded nine goals from the likes of corners and free-kicks this season, the latest coming courtest of West Brom defender Semi Ajayi in the opening two minutes on New Year’s Day.

Whelan says that the same problems are going to keep rearing their head for Marcelo Bielsa’s men until the end of the season unless they are addressed quickly.

Whelan told Football Insider: “We’re going to have this conversation all the way through to the end of the season when it comes to set-pieces, corners, free kicks and sometimes balls into the box. 

“When you come up against players who are big and strong and thrive off balls into the box from corners and set-pieces, we are going to get undone, we can’t defend them very well, we don’t have the height or aggression to deal with that.

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“It is a problem, it is always going to be a problem until the end of the season. That is one of my biggest fears, when we give away corners and long throws if someone’s got the ability to put it into the box, very rarely will get the first contact.

“That’s something we really need to think about or get better at in the second part of the season. It’s not just been this season, it’s been about three seasons now. It is a massive concern.”

Leeds’ next game sees them take on Arsenal in the FA Cup, while their next Championship outing is a Yorkshire derby at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

In other Leeds United news, Whelan has torn into a senior mainstay for his “schoolboy errors” over recent weeks.