Leeds United fans are really keen to see 18-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt get a chance in the first-team squad and they might not have to wait that long.
Talking in his pre-match press conference, as quoted by Leeds Live, Marcelo Bielsa was asked about Gelhardt and whether he was progressing enough to be considered for the first team.
Bielsa said, “Yes, he is a player that is progressing. The evolution of the whole Under-23s team, we follow it closely.
“We analyse every performance of the Under-23s as if it were the first team and because normally we train with 22 players and when we are missing any of those we sub them with the Under-23s.
“I think that around 50% of the Under-23s players can apply for a place on our team.”
Gelhardt has already scored four goals with the Under-23s and got a brace in the last game against Saturday’s opponents Crystal Palace.
One was an absolutely cracking solo effort that saw him pick the ball up outside the box before dancing past three opposition players and drilling the ball into the corner of the net with his left foot.
🤯 What a goal Joffy! pic.twitter.com/knnsSs6MX9
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 1, 2020
And he showed his strength and skills when he created a goal for the Under-23s against Newcastle yesterday.
🔥 Gelhardt x McCarron pic.twitter.com/XKwtqotmxi
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 6, 2020
Let’s not forget that Gelhardt had made a number of senior appearances for Wigan in the Championship so he’s had a taste of first-team football.
He made 19 Championship appearances and scored one goal.
Gelhardt has been compared to Wayne Rooney and the powerful striker cost Leeds less than £1m.
Rooney made his senior debut for Everton at the age of 16 and featured for England when he was just 17.
The game might have changed a bit since then and it’s unlikely that would happen again, but plenty of players make their debuts at 18.
If Gelhardt is good enough then he’s old enough and we think he’s going to feature on the Leeds first-team bench before too long.
In other Leeds United news, Bielsa confirms key Leeds star set for late fitness test, 3 players ruled out v Palace