Leeds United U23s coach Mark Jackson says Leo Hjelde enjoyed a ‘really pleasing’ debut for the Elland Road side’s youth team, following a loan spell at Ross County.

Hjelde helped County survive in the Scottish Premiership last season and was hailed by then-manager John Hughes as ‘the next Virgil Van Dijk.’ Comparisons to the £75 million Dutch centre-back were lofty, but Leeds United interest in Hjelde has been present since 2020. He can play centre-back and left-back.

Rangers v Ross County - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Hjelde shone for County. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The English Premier League club got their man last month and Hjelde made his debut in a 2-2 U23s draw with West Ham United – in which Scotland U21s international Harrison Ashby scored for Hjelde’s opposition. Jackson says Hjelde has taken lessons from his Ross County spell to Leeds United.

He said: “It’s always a challenge for a player to come in and make their debut when he’s not been with us long after signing and going away on international duty. He’s [Hjelde] not trained a lot with us. We know he can play left-back, he played left-back at his loan spell at Ross County but ultimately he’s a centre-back.

“I think he showed that in the second half. I think his second half performance was really pleasing. He was finding his feet in the first half and found it tough, but he stuck at it so overall it was a good performance from him.”

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