Noel Whelan expects Leeds United youngster Joe Gelhardt to be given an opportunity in the first team soon.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the former Leeds striker and boyhood Whites fan claimed the forward could benefit from Marcelo Bielsa’s lack of striker options.

Football Insider revealed Gelhardt’s performances in training and for Leeds’ Under-23 side have blown Bielsa and his coaching staff away.

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The 18-year-old moved to Elland Road from cash-strapped Wigan Athletic in the summer for an initial £700,000 which is already being heralded as “an absolute bargain”.

Asked by Football Insider whether Gelhardt could get a chance in the first-team soon, Whelan said: “I don’t think we’ve got enough options up front.

“I think he’s proved to the manager that he’s progressed since we brought him into the club from Wigan. He’s a player that knows when the back of the net is, he holds the ball up, is a fantastic goal scorer and he’s a great little player.

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“We don’t have any real out-and-out strikers to help Patrick Bamford. If he’s doing that well in the Under-23s and we’re very light in that centre forward position, if I was him I’d be expecting a chance in the first team.

“He’s not going to get in straight away obviously, with Patrick Bamford playing so well. But we need backup and he’s the one right now as Sam Greenwood has only just come back from an injury so he’s going take a little bit more time.

“But right now, Gelhardt is definitely knocking on the door for a first-team position, even if that’s on the bench.”

Gelhardt has scored four goals in seven appearances for Leeds Under-23s in Premier League 2 this term.

He featured in 21 games last season for Wigan, including 19 appearances in the Championship.

In other Leeds United news, a top pundit has claimed the club have a “Jaap Stam situation” on their hands after a shock development.