Leeds United elevate Mateo Joseph to first-team training, slap in the face to Joe Gelhardt
Joe Gelhardt must be wondering what he has to do to get a run of games for Leeds United after the latest threat to his position in the team.
Teenage January signing Mateo Joseph has been pictured in training with the Whites first team after starting his season with five goals for the Premier League 2 squad, according to Joe Donnohue.
That may be a worthy elevation for the 18-year-old Spaniard, but after fellow teenager Wilfried Gnonto was brought in on deadline day when numerous other options fell through, Joffy increasingly looks like the nearly-man at Elland Road.
Writing on his personal Twitter account on Monday night (5 September), Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Donnohue said: “January signing Mateo Joseph has been pictured in training with the LUFC first-team following his five-goal start to the U21s’ PL2 campaign.”
Joseph’s five strikes consist of four in the 5-2 win over Derby in the opening game, followed by another in a draw with Norwich in the next game, but he hasn’t found the net in the next two wins.
In contrast, despite a new long-term contract and a lot of positive reinforcement from Jesse Marsch, Gelhardt’s season has yet to get going, with under 200 minutes combined so far.
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It’s not the manager’s fault that just when Patrick Bamford suffered the latest of a series of injuries at the start of the campaign the 20-year-old had also picked up a knock and was not in the squad at Southampton (13 August).
Since then however Dan James has again been preferred for a place in the starting line-up, despite being apparently so expendable the club let him move on loan to Fulham on deadline day without needing to do so financially.
Rodrigo, admittedly in fine goalscoring form, was moved further forward as well, until he suffered a dislocated shoulder against Everton (30 August).
Gelhardt was finally given a start in the thrashing at Brentford at the weekend (3 September) with the Spaniard out and the Welshman gone, and was duly a threat during the first half.
Then with the introduction of Bamford off the bench at the break he instantly began to combine well with the 29-year-old, suggesting the start of a connection that plenty of fans have been hoping for.
But the manager made the strange decision to take him off before the hour mark, along with goalscorer Luis Sinisterra, and the game eventually got away from United.
The reluctance to commit to Gelhardt is a recurring theme, and it is strange considering he has largely contributed despite only turning 20 earlier this year, and rarely getting the comfort of an extended run.
He was even withdrawn with the side 3-1 up and cruising in the Carabao Cup against Barnsley when getting some valuable minutes.
Everybody knew that another option was needed in the window to guard against injuries, but when fit there seems little reason not to turn to the youngster more often.
And now with Joseph in the picture the question has to be what it is about Gelhardt that doesn’t convince.