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Leeds have high hopes for Joe Gelhardt after an impressive first Premier League start

Joe Gelhardt’s first Premier League start shows why Leeds bet on the teenage forward, who they hope he can live up to the ‘next Wayne Rooney’ hype

  • Joe Gelhardt’s style of play and physique have compared him to the former England team
  • Teen impressed at first Premier League start even if Leeds lost 2-1 to Spurs
  • Leeds paid Wigan £ 700,000 last season for a 19-year-old prospect
  • The physical form of the England U-20 striker has improved dramatically under Marcelo Bielsa


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It’s too early for a statement by Clive Tyldesley of ‘remembering the name’, but it’s easy to see why Joe Gelhardt is being compared to a young Wayne Rooney. His robust complexion. Her strength. Its low center of gravity. He’s the guy.

Hell, he’s even from Merseyside. Scouts in those parts are used to being told about the “next Rooney” every time a talented kid in their patch makes noise. Most do not live up to expectations. Leeds hopes Gelhardt will.

At the initial cost of £ 700,000, paid to Wigan Athletic in 2020, the club could afford to take a chance on this 19-year-old prospect. Although it seems less of a gamble and more of a good investment.

Leeds forward Joe Gelhardt is being compared to a young Wayne Rooney and looks good

Leeds forward Joe Gelhardt is being compared to a young Wayne Rooney and looks good

Gelhardt’s first start in the Premier League was promising, although it ended in defeat. He’s been scoring for fun for the Leeds Under 23s, but those games aren’t played with the pressure of 60,000 pairs of eyes watching your every move.

Appearing in front of a crowd of this size is still new for this U-20 teenager from England and, to his credit, he didn’t shy away. He came close twice in the second half, unleashing two scrappy left-foot efforts that needed to be saved by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

He ran to the ground until his number went up. He seemed disappointed in himself when he was substituted in the 86th minute, but the sight of his sweat-soaked jersey will have satisfied his boss, at least. It meant that I had marked one of Leeds’s non-negotiable issues: that you work hard.

The England U-20 striker made his first away Premier League match at Tottenham on Sunday

The England U-20 striker made his first away Premier League match at Tottenham on Sunday

The England U-20 striker made his first away Premier League match at Tottenham on Sunday

The teenager was buoyant throughout the game and repeatedly tested Spurs center-backs.

The teenager was buoyant throughout the game and repeatedly tested Spurs center-backs.

The teenager was buoyant throughout the game and repeatedly tested Spurs center-backs.

Gelhardt had to wait for this moment, with his club eager to fix his fitness after he arrived in a condition that did not meet his coach’s high standards. Not that this was entirely his fault.

Gelhardt was not taught much about nutrition and the like at Wigan, where it is said that he would run a maximum of 9km per game. Now that he’s enrolled in the Marcelo Bielsa athletics school, an elite program that includes ‘killer ball’ lessons, he runs about 11 km per game.

He’s fitter than ever, which helped Sunday. He was not a stationary striker, standing with a directive to distract Tottenham center-backs. He was fluent, always reaching for the ball and showing that he can hold onto it when others try to hit him.

Gelhardt isn't afraid to be aggressive on the pitch, but he piled on Sunday

Gelhardt isn't afraid to be aggressive on the pitch, but he piled on Sunday

Gelhardt isn’t afraid to be aggressive on the pitch, but he piled on Sunday

That matched Jamie Redknapp’s description of him as a ‘human wrecking ball’, which meant in the best possible way. “I like it,” said the Sky Sports commentator and Sportsmail columnist. ‘It’s really exciting. He is fast. Is agressive. Once it gets in the box, you love it.

Gelhardt’s appearance as a substitute against Wolves a month ago, in which he played with opposition defenders and won a decisive penalty at the end, told fans they hadn’t seen the last of him.

This was another good glimpse of a teenager who’s only going to get better and better. The first Premier League goal will come and once it does, Leeds expect a flurry.

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