Noel Whelan has tipped Jamie Shackleton to replace Mateusz Klich in the Leeds United starting XI against Tottenham on Saturday.
The former Leeds striker and boyhood fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has suggested that the 21-year-old will get the nod over Pablo Hernandez for the visit to north London thanks to the youngster’s defensive nous.
Marcelo Bielsa may be forced to do without Klich for the first time in the Premier League against Spurs after the 30-year-old picked up an injury in the 5-0 win over West Brom.
Whelan has admitted it will be strange to see a starting XI without the Poland international but insisted Shackleton has the attributes to fill the void on Saturday.
“First and foremost, he’s (Klich) the one player you never think you’re going to be without, he’s hardly ever injured,” Whelan told Football Insider.
“We’ve got cover, and it’s another opportunity for, maybe, Pablo (Hernandez) can come into that role, he’s been exceptional when he’s come on as a substitute to play when Rodrigo’s come off.
“Then you’ve also got Shackleton who’s very capable in there and a player that never lets the manager down or anybody – gives 100 per cent, he can get around the field, he’s tenacious and he drives forward, very much like Mateusz Klich does.
“He likes to get in those attacking positions so if Klich isn’t fit for the game, Shackleton, for me, is probably the right replacement to be in that midfield area.”
Shackleton has made just one Premier League start for Leeds this season, when he featured for the first 45 minutes against Leicester City.
He has a further seven top-flight appearances from the bench under his belt, including in Leeds’ last five games.