Pundit View: Noel Whelan jumping the gun by saying youngster is “just as good as Jack Clarke”

When speaking to Football Insider, former  Leeds United player Noel Whelan has picked out Jamie Shackleton as the club’s most promising youngster ahead of Jack Clarke.

The 19-year-old has made 19 appearances for the first team this season, and the BBC Radio pundit has clearly been impressed by what he has seen.

What’s been said then?

Whelan has been getting excited about Shackleton based on his performances this season.

The youngster has been utilised as both a right-back and a central midfielder by Marcelo Bielsa this year. His versatility has seen him get more first team chances than other young players.

“I wish I had seen a bit more of him during the season,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“He is just as good as Jack Clarke, and might be better than Clarke.

“He is very direct, very fast, tenacious, a good passer of the ball and makes things happen. It’s nice to see Clarke and Shackleton regularly in the first-team squad, but fans would like to see more of Shackleton. He’s got a bit of everything and is going to the very top.”

Jumping the gun

The 44-year-old may be jumping the gun when comparing Shackleton to Clarke.

Although the 19-year-old has been impressive for the Whites, he has only played 439 minutes in the league this season. Compare this to Clarke who has played 801 mins, and it’s easy to see how he has gotten carried away.

16 of the youngster’s 19 appearances this season have been off the bench, and of course, it is much easier to impress when playing against fatigued opposition in short spurts.

The two teenagers have been used sparingly by Marcelo Bielsa this season, but the winger has played a lot more football than the player he is being compared to.

Shackleton has had less time to impress than the 18-year-old, but he has also had less time for the opposition to exploit weaknesses in his game.

Clarke has the added weight of expectation due to the electric start his career at Elland Road. Now his performances have dropped off slightly people have begun to underrate him. Not that Shackleton isn’t a great young prospect, but to compare him to Clarke is just one step too far.