Noel Whelan has applauded Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa after he dropped Jack Harrison for the visit of Aston Villa.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Whites and Coventry striker said the 24-year-old has “not been himself” in recent games and was in need of a rest.

Harrison was dropped from the starting XI which lost 1-0 to Aston Villa on Saturday.

His omission came as a surprise given that he had previously started every Premier League game in which he has been available this season (24).

As quoted by Leeds Live, Bielsa praised Harrison’s “strong” mentality last week, just days before he decided to replace the winger with Helder Costa.

Whelan is adamant that Harrison will return to the starting XI against West Ham in place of last summer’s £16m signing Costa.

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“There is no doubt about it, Jack Harrison has not been himself for three games,” he told Football Insider.

“A lot of football has been played this season and I think Harrison needed a bit of a rest.

“He was not his normal self. He was not involved in games as Bielsa would have liked. In the last few games he has looked a bit flat, he’s not been on the ball and out of the game in periods. It was the right thing to do top give him the break.

“Helder Costa deserved his opportunity against Villa but he didn’t take it so Harrison will come back in against West Ham.

“Harrison came off the bench and had an impact. He put a great ball in for Raphinha, who should have scored with the header, and we looked a little bit sharper as a team when he was on the pitch.”   

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