By Neil Champney

28th Aug, 2020 | 3:30pm

Pep Clotet backs 'very smart' Leeds ace to play 'major role' in PL next season

Former Leeds United assistant manager Pep Clotet has lavished praise on Pablo Hernandez, insisting that he can play a “major role” for the Whites next season. 

The 35-year-old played a key role in his side’s promotion to the Premier League this summer, hitting nine goals and nine assists in the Championship, including three of each in the final six games of the campaign.

And despite his advancing years, Clotet – who worked under Garry Monk at Elland Road – believes he can make a real impact in the top flight.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “Pablo is a Premier League player. He still has the ability.

“He will add a lot of experience and that is going to be important. I am pretty sure that Pablo can and will play a major role for Leeds in the Premier League.

“Pablo always had a lot of skill and was very quick. Afterwards, he has become very smart. Now he has added very strong physical performances as well. I think Marcelo has managed to work very well with him and get the best from him.

“He has adapted a lot. His vision of the game is very good, his tactical ability, and, of course, that only improves as you add experience.”

Anybody who watched Hernandez last season will be fully aware of just how vital he still is to this Leeds side.

When things really got tough at the end of last season he was the one who stepped up with a number of magical moments to inspire his team to promotion.

Even as far back February, Kevin Phillips was singing his praises, telling Football Insider: “He’s a good player, he’s a Bielsa player, his work rate’s excellent, his technical ability is excellent and he can score goals.

“Any side in any league wants players like that and I’ve enjoyed watching him over the years, he’s the one you want on the ball as he has tricks and can surprise teams. Everyone loves to see him play.

“From Leeds’ point of view, they need to keep him fit between now and the end of the season because again he could be the difference.”

Obviously, in an ideal world Hernandez would be 10 years younger and just coming to the peak of his powers, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t still be a nice influence for the Whites over the remainder of his career.

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