Leeds starlet Joe Gelhardt looks set to finally get another start in the team, but it has not come via the way many expected.
There have been calls for Marcelo Bielsa to use the 19-year-old more since he came off the bench against Wolves in October to win a penalty in stoppage time that Rodrigo put away to earn a 1-1 draw.
He didn’t feature again until he was handed a start against Tottenham Hotspur a month later and he was one of the Whites’ standout performers in a 2-1 defeat; Jamie Redknapp described him as “a human wrecking ball” and “really exciting”.
Yet still he was not rewarded with more opportunities. Gelhardt was left on the bench against Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace and was not even included in the matchday squad against Brentford.
Then came his impact as a substitute against Chelsea, when he scored what looked to be a vital equaliser until Jorginho’s stoppage time penalty.
He came off the bench again at Manchester City on Tuesday (14 December) in place of the injured Dan James but could do nothing but watch as Leeds were thrashed 7-0.
With James now set for a spell on the sidelines, and Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo already out, the stage is set for Gelhardt to play from the start against Arsenal on Saturday (18 December).
To a certain degree, you can understand why Bielsa has been reluctant to throw him into action. Ultimately the teenager is still raw and it is not a bad thing to ease him into the first team.
But given his performances and contribution when he has been on the pitch, another start has been a long-time coming.
Granted, the circumstances are from ideal with Leeds coming off the back of the harrowing defeat to Manchester City, but perhaps Gelhardt’s youthful energy and fearlessness is exactly what the side need.
In other Leeds United news, the Whites want to sign a teenage sensation from a Premier League rival.