Noel Whelan has hailed Leeds United starlet Ryan Edmondson as the club’s next breakthrough talent.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, former Whites ace Whelan insisted the centre-forward, 17, can be “the next big thing at Leeds” if he continues his impressive development.

Marcelo Bielsa has fast-tracked a number of United academy products this season, with Jack Clarke and Jamie Shackleton establishing themselves in the first team and Jordan Stevens preferred on the bench for Tuesday’s win over Preston North End ahead of on-loan Chelsea ace Izzy Brown.

Attention is focused on who can be the next starlet to make the leap from youth team to key member of the senior squad.

“I’m going to go with the striker’s union and say Edmondson,” Whelan said. “He’s had a taste of it, I’ve seen him play, great stature to him – big strong boy – but not just because of his size.

“He can play and that’s one good thing about him, he’s not just an out ball to flick on. He likes it to the chest, he likes to bring the ball down, he likes to run on, got good pace, got energy but the boy can finish.

“Unfortunately we have two players in Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford that he has to get past first but he’s certainly not let himself down this season when he has been called up to the first team and he’s certainly not let himself down for the 23s and if he keeps going in the same direction  then he could find himself being the next best thing at Leeds United.”

Edmondson has made two substitute appearances for the Leeds senior side, one in September and one in the final match of last season, but has not been included in Bielsa’s squad since October.

The York-born teenager has spent the majority of this campaign in the Under-23s and his prolific scoring has been integral to them lifting them Professional Development League title.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED the club are preparing a £7million bid for a central player.