While Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford will be hoping to make his England debut when they take on Andorra on Sunday, he may be facing more competition for his place up front when he returns to Elland Road after the international break.
The 27-year-old has been Marcelo Bielsa’s go-to man up front since the Argentine took over at the club, and yet again in the summer transfer window they opted not to bring in cover in that area, perhaps with Rodrigo in mind.
However, one man to whom Leeds must finally give a real chance to shine is Joe Gelhardt.
The 19-year-old has yet to make a first-team appearance at Elland Road under Bielsa, but The Athletic’s Phil Hay has tipped the teenager to be the club’s surprise package this season.
During a Q&A for The Athletic, the journalist name-checked the likes of Jamie Shackleton and Cody Drameh, but reserved special praise for Gelhardt and stated that he could be the man to make the biggest impression.
He said: “Possibly Shackelton. I’d like to think Drameh might get a chance if Ayling gets injured or has to relocate to centre-back. But Gelhardt is the one, I feel. So much talent there. Everyone talks about it.”
The former Wigan starlet only arrived at Elland Road last summer but has since made a big impression behind the scenes at Thorp Arch, with Hay previously revealing that the club believe they pulled off an absolute steal.
He said: “He’s been hugely impressive in the (Under-23s). Every time I see him, he looks like a massively talented player. Leeds have been quite honest in saying that the money they paid for him, around about £700,000 up front, from what I was told, is a small fee for somebody with massive amounts of talent.”
With 13 goals in just 19 games at Premier League 2 level, including a stunning hat-trick in a 5-0 win over West Brom last season, Gelhardt is doing everything he can to make waves at academy level.
Leeds Live’s Beren Cross echoed those sentiments about how Leeds pulled off a masterclass in the summer by signing the teenager for so cheap.
He said: “I think it remains. It’s very opportunistic. I think as we saw with Gelhardt, I think that was very much, unfortunately for Wigan, a case of Wigan were in administration, and they had to take what they could get.
“And as I’m sure we’ll find out in the years ahead, Gelhardt may well be the best bit businesses the club has done in the last 20 years, if not ever, because he just looks absolutely outrageous, very, very good player.”
Bielsa has just Bamford as a recognised centre-forward option to call upon, and with the 27-year-old possibly needing to have his game-time managed during the season, it’s surely the perfect time for Gelhardt to be brought into the fold.
The 19-year-old has made it onto the bench for some Premier League games against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but wasn’t brought on.
With Bamford the sole out-and-out striker that Bielsa so often selects, the 5 foot 10 Gelhardt has a real chance to truly stake his claim this season in the Premier League should the former Chelsea man succumb to injury or suspension.