By Noel Whelan

16th Jul, 2021 | 12:26pm

Whelan makes 'massive' claim after Leeds player news

Noel Whelan has applauded three Leeds United youngsters for the “massive” achievement of being handed professional contracts.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted this could be a “heartbreaking” time for youngsters.

As confirmed by Leeds last week, 18-year-old Alfie Hughes and 17-year-old pair Joe Snowdon and Jeremiah Chilokoa-Mullen have signed professional deals at Elland Road.

Hughes, an attacking midfielder, has penned a one-year deal.

Meanwhile, central midfielder Snowdon and centre-back Chilokoa-Mullen have signed two-year contracts.

Whelan insisted there was always huge pressure on a youngster’s shoulders at Elland Road.

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He backed the trio to “raise their games” in a bid to break into the under-23s.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “It doesn’t matter how old you are or what age it is.

“You have got to prove yourself worthy to be at Leeds.

“That’s the same at any big club. It’s very cutthroat, it’s very heartbreaking at that sort of age. There’s a lot of pressure to get your first pro contract.

“It’s a massive congratulations to the three of them that have actually managed to pull that off. They’ve worked hard enough to earn that accolade.

“Now their journey begins. This is where it begins for them. From the under-18s, they’ll be looking to progress to the under-23s.

“Up against a better standard of player, tougher competition. The under-23s got promoted last season so the standard and competition is going to be stronger and tougher.

“They’ve got to raise their game. They’ve got to hit the next level and hit it very quickly. We are still a team that doesn’t just go out there and buy, we’re looking to produce.”

Both Hughes and Chilokoa-Mullen featured for the under-23s last season.

Mark Jackson’s men will be playing in the Premier League 2 division one next term after winning the division two title.

In other news, Football Insider can reveal Jorge Mendes is brokering Leeds United player deal after Bielsa green light.