Patrick Bamford can expect to return to Leeds United’s matchday squad for the clash against Chelsea on December 11, manager Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed.
The striker has not kicked a ball for Leeds since sustaining an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle on September 17. And the absence of last season’s 17-goal top scorer has been keenly felt with Leeds not really having a Plan B for Bamford.
Indeed, Tyler Roberts was brought back into the side on Tuesday night as Crystal Palace were beaten 1-0. And while the Wales forward worked hard for the side and had one of his better games of the season, he still remains without a goal or an assist this season.
Leeds earned the win over Palace thanks to a last-gasp penalty which Raphinha expertly converted. Pundit Karen Carney has offered her thoughts on the major incident at Elland Road.
That was Raphinha’s sixth goal of a high-productive season so far. However, the return of Bamford will hopefully ease the burden on the Brazilian.
Bamford played 90 minutes for Leeds’ Under-23s on Monday. As such, the boss was able to deliver some pleasing news when asked when the striker can return to senior action.
“He played 90 minutes yesterday,” Bielsa said.
“Perhaps for this weekend not, but definitely for the following one.”
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That will mean Bamford likely returning to the bench, or possibly even the starting line-up for the clash at Chelsea. And ahead of a difficult run of fixtures – Leeds then face Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool – his return will be hugely welcomed.
With Luke Ayling also nearing his first-team return and Robin Koch also making steady progress, Leeds could soon be back to full strength.
Predicting Leeds United’s strongest side
With Bamford and Ayling fit, they look certainties to feature in a strongest Leeds’ side to Bielsa.
Here, our writer, James Marshment, picks out what he believes to be the best XI for United.
Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier. Emerging as one of the best in the Premier League, his slot as No 1 remains unchallenged.
Defence: Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas. The jury remains out for me on summer signing Junior Firpo. I’d move Dallas to left-back while he learns Bielsa’s methods. Cooper to hold off the ever-improving Pascal Struijk after forming a solid partnership with Llorente.
Midfield: Kalvin Phillips; Adam Forshaw, Daniel James, Rodrigo, Raphinha. Phillips and Forshaw are two of the first names on the team sheet. The only questions are who plays in the central role behind the main striker and who operates on the left flank. I’ve seen enough of Daniel James to give him the nod over Jack Harrison, who has been out of sorts this season.
Rodrigo seemingly enjoyed playing behind Bamford last season and his return can help the Spaniard back to his best. I’d select him over Tyler Roberts, though Joe Gelhardt could push for selection here as the season progresses.
Striker: Patrick Bamford. He’s been a huge miss for Leeds and is integral to how Bielsa likes to play. His return can help bring out the best of those around him.
Have your say: use the box below to select your strongest Leeds United side with everyone available…