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Leo Hjelde could make Leeds first-team squad for first time at Newcastle

Leeds United face something of a defensive crisis heading into Friday’s clash with Newcastle at St James’ Park.

The Whites were already without Robin Koch for Sunday’s game against Liverpool.

They subsequently lost Diego Llorente to injury. And of course, Pascal Struijk’s game ended early after he was shown a red card.

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The defeat ended with Luke Ayling alongside Liam Cooper at the heart of the backline. And there seems to be a very good chance that the pair will start against the Magpies this week.

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Obviously, that would open up two spots on the bench. And it may well be that at least one of those spots goes to another defender in the ranks.

Charlie Cresswell was already in the squad at the weekend. So perhaps there is a good chance that Leo Hjelde may get his first taste of the first-team squad following his summer switch from Celtic.

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The 18-year-old has only made his debut for the under-23s following his arrival. But he is no stranger to senior football.

He spent time on loan with Ross County last season. It was while there that the Norwegian was compared with Virgil van Dijk by then-Staggies boss John Hughes.

Hjelde must be in contention for bench role as Leeds prepare for Newcastle clash

Ideally, Leeds would take their time with Hjelde. But he is a player who can play at centre-back or left-back. So he must certainly be a contender to make the bench.

There are other options. Kris Moore looked to make a positive impact in pre-season. And Cody Drameh could be worth a shot should Ayling move into centre-back.

But with his first-team experience, Hjelde surely has to be in with a chance of making the bench for the very first time.

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