Bad news for Bielsa as £13m Leeds star learns of likely return to action

Date published: Wednesday 20th October 2021 11:40 - James Marshment

Junior Firpo of Leeds United remonstrates with Jack Harrison of Leeds United during the Pre-season Friendly match between Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United at Ewood Park

Leeds United can reportedly expect to be without summer signing Junior Firpo for another two weeks with his return to action already seemingly pencilled in.

The full-back arrived from Barcelona in the summer to replace Ezgjan Alioski. Alioski, 29, departed on a free transfer, while Firpo was a £12.8m signing from Barca at the start of July.

The 25-year-old has though suffered an inauspicious start to life at Elland Road. And for some fans, the jury remains out on whether Leeds have got themselves an upgrade on Alioksi.

Nonetheless, the player arguably had his best game in a Leeds shirt as Watford were beaten 1-0 at Elland Road.

However, any chance of him building on that performance were ended after he picked up muscular injury in training.

As such, Firpo was forced to miss Saturday’s dismal 1-0 defeat at Southampton. And his absence forced Leeds to play Stuart Dallas at left-back, having moved him from his more familar midfield role.

Now, according to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, Firpo is expected to be sidelined for another two weeks.

He said: “Firpo has a muscular problem. Expected to be out for a couple of weeks.”

Further reports claim Leeds now hope Firpo can return to action for the clash against Leicester City on November 7.

In the meantime, he will miss games against Wolves on Saturday, and the trips to face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup and Norwich at Carrow Road.

It will also mean Dallas will likely have a prolonged stint at left-back again to cover for his absence.


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Bielsa speaks up for Firpo

Having made a difficult start to life at Elland Road, Firpo had the misfortune of scoring an own goal against West Ham recently.

While the victim of a cruel ricochet, Bielsa was forced to defend the player recently.

Asked if Bielsa had to protect his morale in training, he said: “The ball hit him in the equalising goal. It was just an anecdote. Nobody can evaluate whether Junior played well or poorly because a ball hit him in the back and went in the goal.

“With regards to his evolution in the team, I think he hasn’t been able to play a seven-point performance, but he hasn’t also played below a six performance.

“He has had a regular performance and he’s grown, but below what he’s capable of doing. To give an example, Alioski took a lot of games to stabilise his game. He had been in England for a few years.

“Junior coming from playing with two teams that play a different rhythm to the Premier League. This is no better or worse, but different. As such, this process is taking him forward and from my point-of-view it invites optimism.

“When Junior manages to have the rhythm the Premier League imposes on you, he’s going to be a full-back that shines a lot because he has all the physical and technical resources to generate moments of very good football.”

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