Noel Whelan has heaped praise on rarely-seen Leeds United defender Diego Llorente.

The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 27-year-old was the “one big plus point” from the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend.

Llorente has endured a torrid time with injury since he arrived from Real Sociedad in an £18million deal last summer.

However, he appears to have turned a corner after he lasted the full 90 minutes for the second consecutive game on Saturday.

He completed 91 per cent of his attempted passes and won 73 per cent of his duels against Aston Villa, an impressive display in what was only his third start for the club. (Wyscout)

When asked for his assessment of the Spain international’s performance, Whelan told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs:

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“Llorente is looking like the £20million player that we signed, absolutely.

“Up against Ollie Watkins he showed that he was there for the fight, he showed his pace and he showed his aerial ability. He seems to be getting better and better.

“He was the one big plus point for me on the evening. It was fantastic to see him get through the 90 minutes. He is looking very good on the ball and defensively.”

Leeds United boss

Marcelo Bielsa’s side will also be boosted by the return of Robin Koch this month.

The German centre-half is expected to return to training this week.

In other news, Danny Mills tips Rodrigo to explode for Leeds United next season after an intriguing report.