By Noel Whelan

25th Sep, 2021 | 11:00am

Whelan: Cresswell in contention for Leeds XI after what I've heard from Bielsa

Noel Whelan has claimed academy product Charlie Cresswell is a serious contender for a first-team role at Leeds United this season.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker suggested the 19-year-old could push the likes of Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente this season.

Cresswell made his first senior appearance of the season in the League Cup win over Fulham.

Speaking on Thursday (23rd September), as quoted by Leeds Live, Marcelo Bielsa insisted the teenager “took advantage” of his opportunity.

The Argentine snubbed Cresswell to play Kalvin Phillips as a makeshift centre-back against Newcastle following Luke Ayling’s injury.

However, the Leeds manager revealed the academy product has “taken a significant step forward” after the Fulham game.

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Responding to Bielsa’s comments, Whelan suggested the promising centre-back is now firmly in contention for the first team.

Asked if Cresswell was a serious contender among the senior side, Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “I think you’ve got to look at him and think that he is.

“I thought he handled himself fantastically well on Tuesday against Fulham.

“He was very strong, knew where he needed to be, covering in behind, getting himself into the right places, very good on the ball as well.

“He looks really assured back there and it doesn’t like anything is fazing him. He’s enjoying that opportunity to be out there and maybe, just maybe, keep that place.

“I think he’s got all the attributes to go straight in there and play alongside Liam Cooper. That would probably push him on even further.”

Cresswell has made just two first-team appearances to date.

However, neither of those have come in the Premier League.

In other news, Leeds United dealt another potential “nightmare” injury blow, claims ex-manager.