By James Murray

8th Sep, 2023 | 1:40pm

Joe Gelhardt exit from Leeds United inevitable after latest snub

It looks pretty inevitable that Joe Gelhardt will leave Leeds United after he was snubbed for the game against Sheffield Wednesday.

The 21-year-old was an unused substitute as the Whites played out a goalless draw with their Yorkshire rivals at Elland Road on Saturday (2 September).

It appears as though the forward has now fallen down the pecking order under new boss Daniel Farke and a January move could well be on the cards.

It’s been a mixed time for Gelhardt since he arrived at Leeds from Wigan Athletic three years ago after breaking onto the scene with some impressive performances for the Lancashire club.

He is one of a number of young English talents the Whites have scooped up in recent years in the hope that they could one day play a major role in the first team.

The forward’s best form for the club has come for the U-21s side, where he has smashed in 20 goals and laid on six assists in 30 appearances.

But since making his first-team debut against Fulham in the Carabao Cup in 2021, he has been largely underwhelming at that level despite showing early promise.

It isn’t as though he’s been completely short of chances after playing in up to 47 games for the club, having scored just three goals and laid on seven assists during that time.

The club showed last year that they believe in Gelhardt’s potential after handing him a new five-year contract that will run until the summer of 2027.

But his situation looks like it may have changed since then as he was loaned out to Sunderland in January to play some regular first-team football.

That is exactly what he did as he scored three goals and laid on three assists on his way to helping the club reach the Championship playoffs last season.

On his return to Leeds, he was linked with a permanent move back to the Stadium of Light but that never materialised.

In a rather surprising twist, Italian side Lecce were also credited with an interest in the forward as there was a belief that he could “explode” if he was given the right opportunity.

But he remained in West Yorkshire as the Whites started their first campaign back in the Championship with very few attacking options at their disposal.

He has actually started in four of Farke’s first seven competitive games in charge, as he scored in the 2-1 Carabao Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town, but he hasn’t really stood out in his performances in the league.

With Georginio Rutter staying on at Leeds and the big-money signing of Joel Piroe from Swansea, Gelhardt has played just five minutes in the last two games as his opportunities look likely to continue decreasing over the coming months.

There is also the return of fellow striker Patrick Bamford to factor in, which could even pose a risk to the youngster making the matchday squad at all.

With the forward’s minutes in the team set to decrease, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see him shipped out on loan again once January comes around.

But there will be questions in the back of his mind about whether he is ever really going to be able to nail down a place in the side, potentially leading to a permanent exit in the not-too-distant future.

In other Leeds United news, a loanee is proving why the Whites are better off without him this season.