Leeds United fans finally got to see Joe Gelhardt with the first team when he made the bench for the first time against Crystal Palace on Monday night.
He didn’t get on the pitch in the 2-0 win but it’s one big step closer to his much-anticipated debut.
After the match, Marcelo Bielsa said that Gelhardt has been one of the best players in the Under-23s set-up and that he’d been recommended for the step-up by their manager Mark Jackson.
He also confirmed that he would be looking to play Gelhardt in either the striker or no.10 position and that the absence of Pablo Hernandez had helped give the youngster his shot.
Talking in his post-match press conference, Bielsa said, “Prior to the game yesterday, Gelhardt had been one of the better players in the under-23s.
“And given the absence of Pablo, we thought that Tyler Roberts could play as a number ten or as a striker and the same for Gelhardt.
‘We follow every under-23s game closely, we constantly ask for advice from their manager and he suggested that we bring in Gelhardt. We thought that it was a correct recommendation.” [Leeds Live]
Bamford and Rodrigo back-up
Gelhardt has been turning heads in the Under-23s and never more so than on Monday when he scored twice in his 45 minutes on the pitch.
If you haven’t seen him, he’s a strong, physical player who has a brilliant touch and a rocket of a shot.
He’s built up a great partnership with Sam Greenwood in the Under-23s and they’ve been swapped around with both taking turns to playing up-front and in a deeper role.
That versatility is so important to Bielsa and the fact that he sees Gelhardt as suitable to play up top and in the Hernandez role for the first-team is fascinating.
We’ve been looking for a Pablo replacement for a long time. With Raphinha on the right and Gelhardt coming through as a back-up for Bamford up top or Rodrigo in the number 10, we now seem to have it very well covered.
This will be a warning shot for Roberts, too. He hasn’t made the impact he would have been hoping for this season and Gelhardt could easily overtake him in the pecking order.
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