Leeds United will travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the Premier League clash on Saturday evening, and Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping to keep the winning run going.
Ahead of the match, Bielsa has delivered the latest fitness news. The Argentine has confirmed that Diego Llorente has recovered fully.
The Spaniard – who joined the Yorkshire club during the summer transfer window – has struggled with a groin injury that he picked up in October. He hasn’t played a game since, and it looks like he will have to wait for a while to make his Leeds debut.
Although he has recovered completely, Bielsa is not looking to rush him. The Argentine has made it clear that he wants the 27-year-old to regain match fitness by playing for the U23 side before he features for the first team.
Therein lies the big problem. The Leeds U-23 side won’t play before December 13, which means Llorente is likely to feature against Newcastle United on December 16. Put it simply, the Spaniard could miss the games against Chelsea and West Ham, and will only be recalled if there are other injuries.
Bielsa has addressed the media today, as quoted by Leeds Live:
“He’s healthy, he’s in conditions to play and the ideal thing would be for him to play with the under-23s before he plays with the first team because it’s been a while since he’s played now,”
“We’ll see. We hope we don’t have a situation where we have to accelerate his process into the team.”
As it stands, skipper Liam Cooper and Robin Koch are likely to continue at the back.
In recent matches, Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton haven’t featured. Both have struggled with injuries, although in the case of Hernandez, there’s a theory of a potential fall-out between him and Bielsa, following his petulant reaction after he was subbed off in the 4-1 defeat to Leicester.
Bielsa added: “Knowing you can manage his game time and the level is a little bit lower. This is the ideal process. Especially when players have repeated muscular injuries. Shackleton, Pablo and Llorente are in this situation.”
Hernandez – who played a massive role in helping Leeds return to the Premier Leahie last season – picked up a muscular injury ahead of the game against Arsenal. He also missed last weekend’s 1-0 win against Everton, but truth be told, Leeds haven’t felt his absence, as yet.
The Spaniard has endured a stop-start this season. However, he is still a very influential figure at the club, and the fans would love to see him back shortly.
Leeds find themselves at 12th in the Premier League table, and a victory against the Blues would take them to the top half of the league.