Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa appears to be making a major mistake over Joe Gelhardt amid Kevin Phillips’ verdict on the young striker.
The 18-year-old has been in prolific form at academy level for Bielsa’s side this season, scoring 11 goals in 15 games in the Premier League 2. Despite that goal-scoring record, Gelhardt has found first-team opportunities hard to come by, with the closest he has been to the action being an unused substitute in recent weeks.
That has now led to Phillips to claim that the striker may consider his options sooner rather than later, especially if things continue as they are now.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “Sometimes you have to be patient. It’s tough when you’ve got Patrick Bamford ahead of you. He’s probably the first name on the team sheet. But there comes a point where, as a player, if you’re scoring goals and doing well you want an opportunity.
“If you’re not going to get it at the club you’re at, can you go somewhere else and get an opportunity? It’s a tough one for the manager because he wants to keep everyone happy but Leeds are playing well with the system that they play. He’ll want some questions answered by the manager about ‘where does my future lie?’”
Football Insider claimed that the 18-year-old is seen as “electrifying” and “phenomenal” behind the scenes, while Bielsa himself is seemingly a big fan of the talented teenager, with the Leeds manager saying: “He’s a player that always creates danger in a game. He’s a player who’s more linked with the finalising of chances rather than the creation of them. He has resources to beat an opponent and he has a final shot, a finish that is very good.”
So it will surely frustrate Andrea Radrizzani and co that one of the club’s brightest young prospects is struggling to get any first-team action at all this season, even with Leeds having little to no depth up front.
Bielsa sticking with Bamford as his main man up top is completely understandable, especially when you consider he’s bagged 14 goals in 29 Premier League games this season.
But could Gelhardt not have come on for Bamford at the end of games, or be given a chance instead of the likes of Tyler Roberts and Rodrigo for example?
It’s a gaffe on Bielsa’s part, and it would be no surprise if Gelhardt himself is wondering whether he could potentially find a path to first-team football much quicker elsewhere like Phillips suggests.