By Mark Smith

21st Mar, 2020 | 9:00am

BBC pundit claims Leeds players missing out on critical 'need' during enforced break

BBC pundit Noel Whelan has questioned the fitness of the Leeds United squad during the enforced coronavirus suspension.

The former Whites forward admitted that Marcelo Bielsa’s players need match fitness to keep their sharpness at high levels to work at the intensity expected of them.

Leeds went into the break top of the Championship after winning five consecutive matches – keeping clean-sheets in all of them.

Whelan questioned whether the Leeds squad will be able to get back that sharpness they had after the break, with medical staff expected to be tracking their progress.

“It’s the sharpness, the match fitness is a different level of fitness,” he said on the Noel Whelan Show.

“You can do straight-line running all you want, but when you’re out there on the field, that 90 minutes, that fitness that you require and need to be top of your game, that only comes from playing games.

“This spell they’re going to have off, yes they’ll be keeping themselves fit, yes they’ll have heart monitors – all that will be programmed back to the fitness guys at Elland Road to see what they’re doing.

“But, when you come back it’s that sharpness, it’s that momentum, it’s that togetherness of knowing how to play. You’re going to have a big lengthy spell of, are you going to be back up to speed?”

Leeds are known for their high intensity and freakish levels of fitness under Bielsa, and that will automatically drop slightly during the break.

Although the EFL confirmed that football is suspended until the end of April, they did also reveal that clubs are allowed to resume training on the 3rd of the same month.

That means that Leeds could have a month of training behind them before the resumption of football, although that could definitely change depending on the current pandemic.

Leeds usually return after breaks such as the international periods like a house on fire, and time to regain fitness could see them become a different animal over this suspension.

In other Leeds United news, Sky Sports pundit questions confidence as Coronavirus suspension hands blow to Whites