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Exclusive: Nigel Martyn explains why Rodrigo must start v West Ham, and how many points Leeds can in next three games

Leeds United will be desperate to bounce back from Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Nigel Martyn has told LeedsUnited.News why Rodrigo needs to start against West Ham United on Friday – before predicting how many points Marcelo Bielsa’s men can get in their next three games, against West Ham United, Newcastle United and Manchester United.

Rodrigo was only afforded substitute appearances against Everton and Chelsea but Bielsa has since confirmed in Wednesday’s press conference that the Spain international will start against West Ham. Indeed, Bielsa named his entire starting XI in his presser – confirming Rodrigo would replace the injured Robin Koch, and that Luke Ayling or Kalvin Phillips would play in defence.

They come up against a West Ham side that are in excellent form. The Hammers had won their previous three Premier League games – all 1-0 – before losing to Manchester United on Saturday. The Whites also take on Newcastle United and then Manchester United over the course of the next fortnight.

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Leeds icon Martyn told LeedsUnited.News that he believes Rodrigo should start and explained why, previewing Friday night’s clash against the Hammers. Martyn also predicted Leeds to get five points from their next three games, but thinks nabbing six would be “amazing”.

“I think I would [start Rodrigo on Friday]. He’s a bright footballer, a very good footballer. Where do you play him? They need Bamford up front. I don’t see him being able to do the role Bamford does. Attacking midfield, joining up like Richarlison does for Everton,” Martyn said.

“Moyes will have West Ham very well-drilled, they’re playing so well. Leeds ran into Chelsea at the wrong time, and West Ham are the same – I’ve been really impressed with them. It will be down to who can push their style onto the pitch the most.

“Realistically, I think five would be great, six would be amazing and that’s attainable. That’s where you’ve got to aim at. Leeds Man U games are always tasty encounters. Man U are a good side, but they aren’t a great side at the moment. There’s no fear. You could come out of it undefeated from those games, but you could lose one have six. I’m hoping we are undefeated. Five would be a good return and keep our fingers crossed for more.”

Rodrigo has shown glimpses of magic since joining Leeds for a club-record £27million in the summer from Valencia – scoring against Manchester City and hitting the bar as Leeds drew 1-1 with Pep Guardiola’s side, while coming within inches of a winner against Arsenal. He seemingly has the pace, skill and direct style of play to take Leeds to the next level.

Leeds will certainly hope so on Friday, after the Whites lost both Koch and Diego Llorente to injuries. Bielsa did confirm the return of veteran playmaker Pablo Hernandez who has failed to be included in the matchday squad for the last four matches – as well as Jamie Shackleton.

The Whites then come up against Newcastle next Wednesday at Elland Road, before a trip to Old Trafford on December 20. With Leeds sitting in 14th, they will certainly be looking over their shoulder.

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