Bielsa says Hernandez was benched for Leeds due to a lack of match fitness

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa revealed that Pablo Hernandez was on the bench against Blackburn Rovers due to a lack of match fitness. The 33-year-old was introduced in the 70th minute in place of Kemar Roofe as Leeds suffered a 2-1 defeat at Ewood Park.

Given his fine form earlier in the season, many may have expected to see Hernandez back into the starting lineup, but Bielsa was mindful of how much time out the winger has had in recent weeks. In a post-match interview with Leeds Live, the Whites manager said: “He didn’t start the game because I took his absence and all the games he missed into account.

“I thought he couldn’t play 90 minutes and he didn’t play before with the under-23s, which is always good to do. I thought we would need him and I thought he would have a bigger influence as a sub than as a starter. When he came in he didn’t have to make efforts defensively and he could focus on attacking. What Pablo did on the pitch was important.”

According to WhoScored, Hernandez created two chances, completed one dribble, made two tackles, whipped in three crosses, attempted 16 passes and made 30 touches in his 20-minute cameo from the bench. The Spanish international, whose last cap came in 2010, has scored and created five goals in as many Championship games this season.

Hernandez has been a key performer for Bielsa and will likely make more substitute appearances in the coming weeks to boost his match fitness, after spending the last two months sidelined. Leeds have suffered somewhat in his absence, dropping points in five of the seven games Hernandez missed, so his return is good news.

Stats from Transfermarkt.