Marcelo Bielsa has told his press conference – as per Leeds Live – on Thursday afternoon that Leeds United will be without Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo and Ian Poveda – as the Whites take on Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, the Argentine manager did confirm that Diego Llorente has returned to the squad and that Mateusz Klich is available, despite facing Arsenal with a sore hip.
Leeds will be looking to get back to winning ways against Wolves, but also get revenge over Nuno Espirito Santo’s side – who beat Leeds 1-0 at Elland Road earlier in the season with a deflected effort from Raul Jimenez. Wolves have been going through a rough period of form, but have improved over the course of their last five fixtures.
Indeed, wins over Southampton and Arsenal have come in their last five – along with draws against Leicester and Chelsea. Leeds have three wins in their last five themselves – beating Leicester, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. But the Whites have also suffered defeats to Everton and then most recently, Arsenal. An improved second 45 will given fans hope, though.
While Llorente is fit, and featuring on the club’s training video – he is unlikely to be thrown in to the starting line-up, having suffered injuries against Newcastle and Chelsea, his only two appearances for the Whites so far. Klich is expected to start, but it is covering the absence of both Rodrigo and Phillips that will have Bielsa scratching his head.
Jamie Shackleton did well against Arsenal and Leeds were much better with Struijk in defence. So, surely Struijk and Liam Cooper need to combine at centre-back again – allowing Luke Ayling to play on the right, his natural position. Shackleton deserves to be given a chance to partner Klich in attacking midfield, having done well against Arsenal.
But who covers Phillips? Leeds have arguably the most versatile player in the Premier League, in the form of Stuart Dallas. Left-back, right-back, left wing, right wing, central midfield, attacking midfield – and now, holding midfield? The 29-year-old Northern Irishman should be given the chance to sit at the base of the midfield. No changes, but a reshuffle.