Leeds United under-23s boss Mark Jackson has showered heaps of praise on youngster Leo Hjelde.
The 18-year-old defender joined the Yorkshire club in the summer transfer window from Celtic, and he has been making remarkable progress at the club’s academy.
Jackson claims that the youngster has got similar qualities to Charlie Cresswell who made his Premier League debut for Leeds last weekend in the 2-1 defeat against West Ham United.
After impressing against Fulham in the Carabao Cup, Marcelo Bielsa picked Cresswell for the clash against the Hammers.
The likes of Diego Llorente, Robin Koch, and Luke Ayling were all injured while Pascal Struijk was serving a ban, Bielsa unleashed the youngster against West Ham, and he did reasonably well.
Jackson handed the armband to another centre-back – Hjelde – this week in the EFL Trophy at Oldham. With Cresswell likely to be involved in the matchday squad this week, Jackson has full confidence that Hjelde will shine.
“I see good leadership qualities in Leo, I have done for a while, watching him throughout the summer before he signed for the club,” said Jackson, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“He demonstrates good leadership qualities. It was a test for him to come in and take the armband and lead the team. I challenged him to lead the team and organise.
“I did that with Charlie Cresswell throughout the time I worked with him, from Under 16s, through the 18s and 23s. I see the same qualities in Leo.”
The trend continues.
Jackson is doing a terrific job at academy levels.
Last season, when Leeds were going through an injury crisis, Pascal Struijk stepped up from the U23 side and went on to become an important player under Bielsa.
A similar situation arose last week, and Jackson was there again to provide the Argentine with another young exciting talent from the academy.
It seems Hjelde is following the same trajectory. Jackson was full of praise for the youngster, and it is only a matter of time before he gets into the senior team.
Bielsa has shown that he is ready to pick players irrespective of their age if they are good enough. For now, Hjelde must focus on improving his game at the academy levels, and stay calm about getting chances for the senior team.
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