By Noel Whelan

5th Jul, 2021 | 10:39am

Whelan makes bold Gelhardt claim after hearing 'rave reviews' from Leeds pals

Noel Whelan is backing Joe Gelhardt to challenge Rodrigo for a place in the Leeds United first team next season.

The former Whites hitman, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has been blown away by what he’s heard about the young attacker.

Gelhardt impressed as he scored 11 goals in 16 Premier League 2 games last season.

The striker has reported for pre-season training and has told BBC Radio Leeds (July 1st) he is the “sharpest and fittest” he’s ever been.

He is yet to make his senior debut but featured on the bench for eight Premier League games last term.

Whelan insists Leeds not signing a replacement for Rodrigo proves Gelhardt will be given a chance this season.

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“This could be an opportunity where he starts forcing his way into a bit more game time in the first team, in the Premier League,” Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge.

“To be pushing for places and starts and coming off the bench. That is what Gelhardt is all about now.

I think he’s done academy level, he’s done his under-23s.

“Now it’s time to go to that next level, that next stepping stone. Which is pushing these players for the first team.

“We’ve not gone out and bought a replacement for Rodrigo, if that’s where he’s going to play.

“There’s rave reviews about this kid that’s going to be massive for the future.

“I want to see him play. I want to see him go express himself like he did with the under-23s.

“That creativity in that number 10 role but also that sharpness in his finishing.”

In other news, Leeds United are well placed to seal blockbuster third deal of the summer after latest talks result in agreement.