Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Leeds: Michael Skubala must unleash Joe Gelhardt vs Bolton

Leeds United U21s head into this evening’s Papa John’s Trophy meeting with Bolton Wanderers in an exceptional run of form, with Michael Skubala’s side having won seven and drawn one of their eight fixtures in all competitions so far this season.

Arguably the youth side’s most impressive victory this term came in their first EFL Trophy fixture of the campaign, when a strong U21s side – including Joe Gelhardt, Sonny Perkins, Sam Greenwood, Wilfried Gnonto, Darko Gyabi and Cody Drameh – blew away League Two side Tranmere Rovers 5-3 under the lights at Prenton Park earlier this month.

Indeed, should Skubala once again be free to pick a number of Jesse Marsch’s young first-team starlets over their remaining Papa John’s Trophy fixtures against Bolton this evening as well as Crewe Alexandra on November 1, the Whites would appear to have a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition – and perhaps enjoy something of a cup run.

And, one player who it would appear an absolute must for Marsch to make available for this evening’s fixture is Gelhardt – the 20-year-old forward who has struggled for first-team minutes so far this season – as a tricky match against a seventh-placed League One side in Bolton could be the perfect opportunity for the England U21 international to impress.

Indeed, so far this season, the £8.7m-rated talent has played just 206 minutes of football over his eight appearances for the first-team, despite the fact that both Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo have missed a number of games due to injury – with the general consensus being that the youngster simply must be given more game time in order to continue his development.

And, while it would appear as if Gelhardt is already a level above U21 football – scoring 20 goals and providing six assists over his 30 outings for Skubala’s outfit – a run out against Bolton’s seasoned defence would undoubtedly provide the 20-year-old with a fantastic chance to prove to Marsch that he is more than capable of starting for Leeds’ senior side.

1 of 15

What month did Marcelo Bielsa's tenure come to an unfortunate end?

However, considering the £16.5k-per-week gem’s returns in first-team football, it looks as if Gelhardt already deserves a chance from the off, with FBref ranking the 20-year-old in the top 20% of forwards in Europe’s big five leagues for assists per 90, as well as the top 27% for non-penalty xG, the top 24% for shots and the top 14% for dribbles completed over the last 365 days.

Either way, unleashing the player who Graeme Bandeira dubbed a “bullish kid” and Phil Hay claimed is “one of the club’s biggest talents” tonight would appear a win-win for Leeds, as Gelhardt would undoubtedly provide the U21s’ chances of beating Bolton with a huge boost, while also affording the 20-year-old a worthwhile challenge against a League One defence.

Article title: Leeds: Michael Skubala must unleash Joe Gelhardt vs Bolton

Please leave feedback to help us improve the site: