Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch felt thoroughly impressed with Joe Gelhardt and his all-round play against Brisbane Roar in comments that bode well for him ahead of the new season.
The Whites continued their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win over the Australian side in Melbourne. Their six new summer signings have all travelled on the camp, with some of those faces featuring on Thursday.
Indeed, new midfielder Brenden Aaronson had a goal ruled out 19 seconds into his Leeds debut.
Meanwhile, Luis Sinisterra – the attacking signing from Feyenoord – replaced Daniel James after 32 minutes.
But Wales international James was one of the stars of the show before then. He scored Leeds’ opener after 23 minutes before setting Gelhardt up for the second two minutes later.
Marsch told his post-match press conference: “I thought we had a really good start to the match. Maybe it’s a really close call whether it’s offside or not in the first minute.
“Then we were able to push the game and get the two zero lead. And then Brisbane did a good job getting a goal toward the end of the half and then second half I thought they put a lot into it.
“But I thought our guys got a little bit more fitness.”
Gelhardt enjoyed some standout moments for Leeds last season, including his late winner against Norwich and strike at Chelsea.
He has shone at the start of pre-season this summer, with Marsch recognising the 20-year-old’s development ahead of a potentially greater role next term.
Marsch hails Gelhardt, Leeds role
“I think the goal he scored was quite good and he always has some clever moments around the goal,” the manager said.
“I thought that tactically he was aggressive in moments against the ball. Then with the ball, he was creative and helped us create some chances.
“Again, I think he does really well to get up and win the header on the goal. So I thought we had two good goals.”
Marsch also hailed the fact that Pascal Struijk got through 90 minutes and that Leeds were injury-free.
“We were just kind of looking at how many training sessions guys have had,” he said.
“We’re going to have a real training session tomorrow. So tomorrow, except for Pascal, he’ll need a regen day, but the rest of the guys will be looking to continue to build fitness and sharpness and clarity in every way.
“So trying to get everybody some some time on the pitch to work tactically and fitness wise, but then make sure that we still have some good training days where we can push things, so all those guys that played 30 we’re just managing them physically or they came into camp a little bit late.”
Marsch did admit that his side are “moving forward”, despite noticing concerns with too many counter-attacks and big chances being conceded.
Leeds get pre-season underway
Marsch will be delighted overall at how his side have got their preparations for the new campaign underway.
The 2-1 win highlighted the strengths and weaknesses that still remain in the team.
Next up for Leeds is a clash with Aston Villa, which will be a step up and another good test for the Whites.
After last season’s relegation scare, Leeds will be looking to beat the likes of Villa – who finished mid-table – in the hope of climbing back up the table.
Indeed, Leeds finished ninth in their first season back in the top flight and will look for such stability next term.