By Noel Whelan

31st Jul, 2021 | 8:00pm

Whelan makes 'massive' Leeds claim after multiple player Twitter posts

Noel Whelan has claimed the Leeds United supporters have a “massive” role to play after returning to the away end in pre-season.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the players would “thrive” off the energy and atmosphere of the Elland Road faithful.

Leeds played in front of their away fans for the first time since February 2020 on Wednesday as 5,000 supporters packed the stands at Blackburn Rovers.

The likes of Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and new signing Junior Firpo all took to Twitter afterwards to herald the return of the Leeds faithful in the away end.

Whelan insisted the club and fans had “come together massively” during lockdown.

He suggested the return of supporters would lift players’ performances to new heights.

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Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “The support has been there between fans and players throughout Covid.

“It’s been a tough time where a lot has been taken away from them. Not just football but life in general, livelihoods have been lost. I think that’s where the club and the fans have come together massively over the 18 months.

“That support network has been there from both sides, from fans to the club and the club to the fans. I think Wednesday night was that release of everything that’s been going on.

“That excitement, that little bit of normality again back in everyone’s lives, is massive. You can see how noisy they were, how excited they were to be back.

“Just for the players as well, they need the fans as much as the fans need them. That’s the relationship that we have, and I’m sure many clubs around the country have, with our fans.

“It’s just so good to get that energy and that passion back into stadiums that everyone thrives off.

The players are definitely going to do that this year because it’s gonna be so loud, home or away, for the players to feed off.”

In other news, major update on Leeds United bid to sign midfielder from rivals.