Noel Whelan has admitted he was “shocked” to hear Robin Koch would be out for up to three months for Leeds United with a knee injury.

The former Leeds striker and lifelong fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, revealed he thought the 24-year-old had just suffered a dead leg against Chelsea and that he would be back swiftly.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, as first relayed by Sky Sports, Koch could be out of action for as long as three months after he underwent surgery on a knee problem which he has suffered with for most of the season.

The 24-year-old was forced off after less than 10 minutes in the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea, having been an ever-present in the league until that point.

Whelan, who was at Stamford Bridge for the game, admitted he thought little of the incident with Olivier Giroud and that his absence will be a “big loss” for Marcelo Bielsa.

Asked what his initial response to the news was, Whelan told Football Insider: “I was shocked actually. I thought it was just a dead leg he’d suffered from the challenge from Giroud. 

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“Obviously now they’ve had it assessed and had the scan, it seems to be a little bit more serious, it seemed quite innocuous, a normal challenge in an aerial battle but it’s obviously something more serious, needs an operation and it’s a big loss to lose him.

“You talk about continuity and consistency, like we had last season and I’ll keep going back to Ben White and Liam Cooper because it was such a good partnership and they grew and made each other better throughout the whole season.”

Bielsa has been forced to swap between his centre-backs all season after injuries to the likes of Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente.

Right-back Luke Ayling and young enforcer Pascal Struijk have both stepped in as makeshift options at the heart of the defence.

In other Leeds United news, Football Insider pundit has suggested the Whites could be set for a spending spree after paperwork filed.