By Noel Whelan

8th Jan, 2021 | 11:00am

Pundit Exclusive: Two Leeds teens backed for first XI debuts after Bielsa reveal

Noel Whelan is convinced Leeds United teen sensations Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood will be unleashed for the first time this weekend.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker revealed he “absolutely expects” the 18-year-old pair to make their debuts in Sunday’s FA Cup clash against Crawley.

Like most Premier League bosses, Marcelo Bielsa is likely to ring the changes for the third-round tie amid a heavily congested fixture programme.

Gelhardt and Greenwood joined the Yorkshire giants last summer from Wigan Athletic and Arsenal respectively.

They have both made big impacts at Under-23s level, operating in a variety of attacking positions including centre-forward and in the attacking and even central midfield slots behind the main spearhead.

Whelan has been keeping close tabs on both youngsters and is excited by what he has seen.

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“I absolutely expect them to make their debuts,” he told Football Insider. “These are two strikers signed in the summer to be part of Leeds’ future and they have been flying in the Under-23s, they really have.

“They have struck up a really good partnership together, scoring bags of goals.

“They have such great link up play, it is telepathic. They have hit the ground a lot quicker than people thought.

“If they are given an opportunity at the weekend – fantastic. Most people would love to see them in a first team game and what better opportunity than the FA Cup?” 

Gelhardt has scored five goals in nine Premier League 2 matches this season.


Greenwood, who was pushed in to central midfield for the Under-23s’ recent 7-1 thrashing of Fulham due to the selection of Tyler Roberts, Helder Costa and Pablo Hernandez, has netted six times in nine Premier League 2 clashes.

As quoted by the Yorkshire Post recently, Marcelo Bielsa praised the teenager’s versatility and said he has “a lot of capacity to arrive into the free spaces.”

In other news, Leeds United product agrees three-and-a-half year contract as transfer finalised.