'Is he better' - Leeds United boss on Joe Gelhardt and Charlie Cresswell Whites future questions

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Whites boss Jesse Marsch says there is plenty to ponder when considering the future of Leeds United's young prospects such as Charlie Cresswell and Joe Gelhardt.

England under-21s international centre-back Cresswell and also Whites team mate Jamie Shackleton are both on a season-long loan at Championship side Millwall but the pair have both been on the bench for the Lions' last four league games.

As journalists itched to ask questions about United's pursuit of Hoffenheim striker Georginio Rutter, Marsch began Thursday afternoon's pre-Aston Villa press conference by stating that he would not be talking about the January transfer window but the Whites boss was specifically asked about the future of Cresswell and also 20-year-old forward Joe Gelhardt.

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Gelhardt burst onto the Whites first team scene with a series of hugely impressive appearances both on and off the bench last season but the England under-20s international striker has had just one league start so far this season in addition to 13 outings from the bench and is still seeking his first goal of the campaign.

WANTED: Young Leeds United forward Joe Gelhardt. Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images.WANTED: Young Leeds United forward Joe Gelhardt. Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images.
WANTED: Young Leeds United forward Joe Gelhardt. Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images.

Most Championship sides are now reportedly looking at Gelhardt with a view to a potential loan move but Marsch explained the complex nature of the full picture when it came to deciding what was best for both Leeds as a club and also young prospects like Gelhardt and Cresswell.

Pressed firstly if he would have some decisions to make this month in terms of streamlining the club's attacking options and possibly letting one or two go out on loan such as Gelhardt, Marsch reasoned: "I don't want to talk specifically about incoming or outgoing transfers. But when we're talking about squad building, it's always trying to figure out how to get every player the minutes that he needs to develop and then the discussion is, is he better here with the 21s, is it better here with the first team or is it better on loan? Those are always open discussions and we try to be really honest and open with our players and then help them to make decisions that are best for them in their career."

Asked later about the pathway for players such as Cresswell - and what sort of future they had at Leeds, Marsch replied: "I really like Charlie. I think his mentality is amazing. Lewis Bate, Dan James, we could talk about all of them and every situation is a little bit different and all the players that we have under in and under our umbrella, in general, we keep them in our umbrella because we like them and we think they have potential for the future. But then situations arise, there's financial pressures, there's needs for players and discussions with agents and interest from other teams and then you always just have to manage things internally the way that you think is best."

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Leeds announced another loan exit just a matter of hours after Marsch's pre-Villa press conference as 19-year-old defender Leo Hjelde sealed a switch to Championship side Rotherham United for the rest of the season. Hjelde's departure came three days after 22-year-old Whites midfielder Alfie McCalmont joined League Two side Oldham Athletic on a season-long loan. This month has also seen a parting of ways with promotion winning hero Mateusz Klich who sealed his switch to MLS side DC United on Thursday afternoon upon his release from Leeds in search of more regular game time.

Asked about allowing players to leave at a time when there were injuries and whether that was wise, Marsch explained: "Well, it depends on every situation. If we talk about Klichy, there were lots of discussions along the way on what was best for him and what was best for us.

"And then even when he's here, how we used him and was he happy and could he understand and commit to that or not and then Victor, Angus, Andrea, all of us talk a lot about what's what's best for us in terms of our process of moving along and we have committed to a lot of new young players from outside the league because we felt like those are some of the players that would fit best for what we're trying to develop here. There's always these little discussions going on and overall I feel like we like our squad."

Asked whether he might have to let players go - on loan or otherwise - to facilitate a transfer - Marsch insisted: "No, I think it's more just evaluating at all moments what's best for the situation."