By Noel Whelan

6th Aug, 2021 | 5:00pm

Whelan thrilled by what he's seen from Rodrigo ahead of Leeds v Man Utd showdown

Noel Whelan has tipped Rodrigo Moreno to play a “crucial” role for Leeds United after an impressive pre-season.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 30-year-old was looking “very sharp” during the Whites’ warm-up games.

The Spaniard struggled with injury and fitness issues during his first season at Elland Road.

However, he has managed to start all three of Leeds’ first-team friendlies this summer.

The versatile attacker played just over an hour against Blackburn Rovers and Ajax and the full 90 minutes versus Real Betis.

Leeds kick off their Premier League campaign at Manchester United on August 14th.

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Whelan admitted Rodrigo had struggled to demonstrate his full potential last season.

However, he backed the Whites’ record signing to make the 2021/22 campaign “his season”.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “I think everyone’s got that expectation on Rodrigo that this is his season.

“Hopefully he starts the season and carries it on free of injury. Last year was a very stop-start season for him.

“I think we could see during those periods at the beginning, when he first came into the side, and especially at the end what a crucial player he’s going to be for Leeds United and why we brought him in to the club.

“His composure on the ball, his composure in front of goal, his cleverness with the assists and linking up play. I think everything about him says: ‘Class’.

“We’ve just got to keep him fit and at the minute he looks very sharp. He’s coming into the season in a good way. Fingers crossed that remains the same leading up to the Manchester United game.”

Rodrigo made 28 appearances and scored seven goals during his first season at Elland Road.

In other news, Leeds United dealt “big blow” after source drops senior player update.