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Pundit urges Marcelo Bielsa to unleash unseen Leeds United talent to replace Pablo Hernandez

Noel Whelan has urged Marcelo Bielsa to unleash Joe Gelhardt after Leeds United confirmed Pablo Hernandez is leaving the club.

The Whites announced last week that Hernandez and Gaetano Berardi will be leaving Elland Road. Hernandez had one year remaining on his contract at Leeds, while Berardi was set to become a free agent.

Both played key roles in securing Leeds’ promotion into the Premier League but were unable to occupy regular roles in the top-flight. Berardi missed most of the season due to a serious knee injury, while Hernandez started three of his 16 appearances.

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Hernandez leaves as a Leeds icon with big shoes to fill, having been named as the club’s Player and the Players’ Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. He retained the Player of the Year award for a record third successive time in 2020, while Stuart Dallas was named as the Players’ Player of the Year.

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Whelan now wants to see Bielsa give Gelhardt his chance to impress at Leeds. The forward moved to Elland Road from Wigan last summer amid interest from a number of top Premier League clubs. But he is yet to make his senior Whites debut despite featuring on the bench.

“We have got to look now towards the future and the longevity, which is a younger player coming in,” Whelan told BBC Radio Leeds. “We have got Gelhardt, who I am really excited about seeing he gets his opportunity.

“Hopefully he will be knocking on the door next season as well, to put pressure in that number 10 spot.”

TBR’s view: Bielsa should give Gelhardt his Leeds breakthrough

While Gelhardt is yet to make his senior Leeds debut, Bielsa has named the forward on the bench eight times. The former England U18 international also scored 11 goals and penned three assists in 16 Premier League 2 fixtures with the Whites’ Under 23s this season.

Yet Gelhardt has experience of first-team action having played 21 games at Wigan, although he only started twice. He also only scored once, but Bielsa should see that he gets his chance at Leeds next term.

Bielsa clearly sees the potential Gelhardt presents having named the 19-year-old among his Leeds substitutes already. He will also have been impressed by the forward’s results in the U23s, who won the PL2 Division 2 title.

Gelhardt could now add his youthful exuberance and creative touch to the first-team with a space created following Hernandez’s farewell. Whelan clearly thinks the stalwart is ready, having urged Bielsa to give youth a chance and witness his exciting potential.

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