Noel Whelan has claimed that the backroom staff at Leeds United were left “sceptical” of summer signing Ben White after joining on loan from Brighton.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds striker and boyhood fan of the club says that everyone around Elland Road was concerned as to how the Whites would fill the void left by Pontus Jansson, the Swede leaving for Championship rivals Brentford.
White has stepped in alongside Liam Cooper at the heart of the defence and has become a mainstay for Marcelo Bielsa’s men, playing every minute of their league campaign and featuring in both their cup outings so far.
However, having now established himself as a favourite of both the manager and the fans at Leeds, Whelan says that the coaching staff will have been uncertain whether the young defender had what it takes to step into Jansson’s shoes.
Asked if the backroom staff will have been surprised by White’s talent, Whelan told Football Insider: “He’s opened everyone’s eyes, I think everyone was a bit sceptical.
“Losing a talisman and a big figure like Pontus Jansson had people worried about how are you going to fill that void? It’s been filled very, very easily by a better player, a character there who seems to be less controversial, going about his business and showing everyone it’s about his football skills.”
The Championship is the highest level White has ever played at in his fledgeling career, having never made a senior appearance for his parent club.
He has spent time on loan in the lower reaches of the English leagues, playing in League Two for Newport County and in League One for Peterborough United.