Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds United will not be able to call upon long-term absentee Adam Forshaw until the new year, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds striker and pundit who covers all the club’s matches insists the midfielder will not have the fitness levels to feature for Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion chasers until after the festive programme.

The January 2018 signing from Middlesbrough has been ruled out of today’s clash against Cardiff City, which extends his spell on the sidelines to nearly four months.

Forshaw, 28, started the campaign in the starting XI but has had just one substitute appearance since August due to what is a hip problem.

“When he comes back he will be a huge asset for Leeds,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He started the season really well and it will be fantastic when he is fully fit again.

“Bielsa normally likes to give injured senior players a few games in the Under-23s to get them up to speed and, given how long Forshaw has been out, you’d expect that to happen with him.

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“You’re looking at January before he is back in the team. 

“We have a strong squad with lots of quality, but it will be really good to have Forshaw back. He can slide into the Kalvin Phillips role and also play higher up the pitch.

“He wasn’t forward thinking last season, but he added that to his game this season. He is good on the ball, is calm in possession and has that experience you need.”

Forshaw is likely to compete with Mateusz Klich, Jamie Shackleton and Tyler Roberts for one of the two advanced midfielder spots in front of anchorman Kalvin Phillips when he is fit again.

He played the full 90 minutes of Leeds’ first six league matches of the campaign, but has subsequently had just a 45-minute appearance as a sub in the 1-0 defeat to Charlton in late September.

Forshaw has made 52 appearances for United since joining from Middlesbrough last year.

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