'He will go a hell of a long way' - ex Leeds United man predicts big things for Joe Gelhardt but sounds warning
Former Leeds United defender Tony Dorigo believes Joe Gelhardt will go a ‘hell of a long way’ but cautions against expecting consistency from the teenager just yet.
Four first-team appearances and a dramatic impact in the game against Wolves at Elland Road have taken simmering excitement levels over the youngster’s potential to boiling point.
Dorigo commentated on Saturday’s game for LUTV, when Gelhardt came off the bench and caused serious problems for Bruno Lage’s men, forcing a fine save from Jose Sa, winning a penalty that Rodrigo converted and very nearly winning three points for the Whites with the final effort in stoppage time.
Gelhardt wasn’t the only one to catch Dorigo’s eye, however.
“When it comes to assessing Gelhardt and Crysencio Summerville, it’s interesting because I was at the under-23s game in pre-season at Fleetwood and Gelhardt didn’t play but, of all the other players, for me, Summerville was the one that stood out,” he said.
“He has got great technical ability and it’s with the size and strength where the test will come but it looks to me like that is not going to be a problem.
“He has got that confidence and he grew with the crowd as well.
“To get on the ball and try and beat people and do that in front of the crowd when you are 1-0 down and in that situation takes a bit of guts and he did it magnificently well.
“It’s always a bit easier when one of your team-mates is playing as well and the two youngsters out there could feed off each other.
“Summerville should be rightly proud of his contribution as well.”
As for Gelhardt, he ticked all the boxes for Dorigo.
“I was talking about the previous hour and how many chances our strikers or wide men had and then I looked at that last half an hour when Gelhardt came on and he had four – in half an hour,” he told the YEP.
“His touch map and where he played right up the top in that last third is everything that you would want from a striker. The first strike that he had was a superb one and the ’keeper made a good reaction save to tip it over.
“The second one was sliced off a little bit then, of course, he won the penalty and, at the end, he is charging through and bulldozing players as well. We saw his strength at Southampton, too. He is not the tallest but, wow, he is strong with the ball. Moahmmed Salisu was bashing around Rodrigo for the first 75 minutes at St Mary’s but then Gelhardt came on and I thought that physically he did well, but we weren’t playing well and he had no chances to show what he could do.”
There was a hope, verging on expectation, that Bielsa might give Gelhardt his first senior start in the Carabao Cup against Arsenal on Tuesday but he stuck with Tyler Roberts and Rodrigo.
Early in the second half, however, Roberts went off to be replaced by the 19-year-old who showed willingness to get on the ball without being able to trouble Bernd Leno.
Dorigo predicts big things for the former Wigan Athletic youngster but warns it will take time for them to come to fruition.
“We need to understand that this is a young player who is certainly getting experience, which is what we want to see, but he needs a bit of time to grow and breathe as well,” said Dorigo.
“The signs are really good for Gelhardt and I am sure he will be looked after very well.
“The boys around him will help as well and long may he flourish but let’s not get too excited because I am sure that young players will have ups and downs and won’t be able to hit a consistent level just yet.
“The last half hour against Wolves showed that he is going to be one heck of a player if he just keeps his head sorted and feet on the ground. He will go a hell of a long way.”