Leo Hjelde has responded to Ross County manager John Hughes’ claims he is ‘the next Virgil Van Dijk’ amid links to Leeds United.

The 17-year-old defender has been a regular for Ross County since joining on loan from Celtic but hit headlines last week. Hjelde was compared to Liverpool’s key centre-back by Hughes, who also confirmed Leeds United tried to sign him before his loan move north.

Linked with Leeds United.

Leo Hjelde is linked with Leeds United. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

While flattered by the compliment and Leeds United interest, Hjelde isn’t dwelling on it too much (YFS): “It’s a good feeling. I think that’s a big stretch, but obviously if he sees something in me that makes him say that then it’s unbelievable and a really nice thing. First-team football as early as possible was my goal when I came to Scotland.

“When the opportunity came to join Ross County on loan, I was really set on that decision to gain experience. All the paperwork was done before my debut that weekend against Rangers but I had did some training sessions with them.

“It’s really helped me, gaining this experience, being in the first-team environment. The step from U23s football is quite big in my opinion. At Ross County you are playing for livelihoods and to try and not get relegated.

“The biggest shame out of it all is no fans. Under these circumstances you can’t do anything about it but it’s maybe been a good thing for me. Going in for my debut in front of 50,000 fans at Ibrox wouldn’t be easy!”

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