Ex-Celtic youngster Leo Hjelde captains Leeds U23s and earns rave review
Former Celtic youngster Leo Hjelde was last night given the Leeds United U23 armband for their big win at Oldham Athletic last night.
Hjelde was part of the Parkhead youth ranks after signing for the club in 2019. However, after two years of progress at Lennoxtown, he was snapped up by EPL outfit Leeds in the summer in what was a massively frustrating loss for the club.
And it’s no surprise to see that he’s going from strength to strength with the Elland Road club so far. Hjelde was signed to bolster their U23 ranks, and he’s certainly lived up to the hype.
Last night, he was given the captain’s armband for a big win against Oldham in the EFL Trophy. And manager Mark Jackson was full of praise after making Hjelde his on-field leader.
As quoted by Leeds Live, Jackson said: “I see good leadership qualities in Leo [Hjelde]. I have done for a while when I’ve been watching him throughout the summer, before he signed for the club.
“It was a test for him tonight, to come in and take the armband and lead the team. I challenged him to lead the team and organise, it’s a new system of play for him to get used to so that challenge as well is going to be difficult for him but I’ve got full confidence and I see the qualities in him, which hopefully I can help nurture.
“I did that a lot with Charlie Cresswell throughout the time I worked with him from when he was an U16, through the 18s and in the 23s as well and I see certain qualities in Leo as well.”
Leo Hjelde already being given sniff of Leeds first-team action
It’s clear how highly Hjelde is rated with the EPL club. After all, he’s been given two matchday squad appearances with the senior side already this season. He was on the bench against Fulham in Leeds’ EFL cup win last week. He then managed another spot on the bench against West Ham United.
It’s early days for the Norwegian. However, the signs are that he’s being primed for an opportunity with the senior side in the near future. He looks like one that could very well be fast-tracked if his progress reaches certain targets.
And it’s even more disappointing when you look at this from a Celtic perspective. Hjelde was one of the top talents in the academy when he left. Looking at our current defensive issues, he could’ve had a big chance here this season.
It was perhaps a bit of a red flag when Hjelde didn’t feature over Dane Murray during Celtic’s early-season defensive crisis. After all, Hjelde was the most well-rounded option and seemed ready for the step-up. Not to mention he had featured a couple of times under Ange Postecoglou in pre-season.
This looked like it could’ve been the year in which Leo made a big impact at Celtic. Just our luck then that he decided to snub that opportunity to take up his role at Leeds.
We would love to say it was the wrong move. But as he continues to both progress and impress, he looks like banging on the door for a first-team spot earlier than many of us could’ve imagined.