By Noel Whelan

21st Dec, 2019 | 8:00am

'Great Xmas present for Leeds fans' - Exclusive: Pundit reacts to early team news

Noel Whelan has hailed the imminent return of Jamie Shackleton as a “great Christmas present” for Leeds United fans.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker is excited about the return to fitness of the versatile midfielder ahead of the festive programme.

Marcelo Bielsa revealed at his media conference on Thursday that Shackleton is fit again after nearly a month on the sidelines with injury.

The 20-year-old is not expected to feature against Fulham today, with the Argentine manager earmarking him for a return to full training on Monday.

“It’s a great Christmas present for Leeds fans to have Jamie back,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He is a favourite of the fans and a really lovely young man.

“He is so valuable to Marcelo Bielsa because he can play so many positions so well – right-back, central midfielder, number 10, wing-back.

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“He is very quick, tenacious, really energetic, good on the ball, a real athlete, so his return at such a key point in the season is very welcome.

“Jamie has so much to offer and I’m sure he will have a big role to play in the second half of the season.”

Shackleton has made four league starts among nine appearances in all competitions this season, during which he has suffered a number of injuries.

This comes after his breakthrough last term, when he started to establish himself in the senior side of his boyhood club.

In other Leeds United news, Football Insider can reveal that the club are working on late-December signing as they aim to use the ‘Bielsa factor’ to get deal over the finish line today.