Marcelo Bielsa admits Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper are likely to be sidelined now until March – and provided a small update on Leeds United’s plans for the January window.
Leeds have struggled during their second season back in the Premier League, winning just three of their 18 matches played. Indeed, their last three games resulted in defeats – the first time under Bielsa’s management – as injuries and illnesses got the better of the Whites.
Two of their biggest players in Phillips and Cooper recently sustained hamstring injuries against Brentford. The initial prognosis was that both were likely to be absent for two months.
However, Bielsa now concedes that a March return looks more likely.
The boss was also questioned how Leeds’ plans are effected by injuries ahead of the January window.
“We’ve been recovering players, even if Kalvin Phillips and [Liam] Cooper will return in March,” he said. [Charlie] Cresswell and [Jamie] Shackleton will return towards the end of January, so the number of players we have will soon increase.
“We will see where we are during January and we may take advantange during January if the right player comes up.”
Leeds will have four players back to face Burnley on Sunday, as Bielsa revealed here.
However, one man they would like to call on is Patrick Bamford.
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The talismanic striker has only been seen once since September 17. That was when, after stepping off the bench during his comeback game against Brentford, he suffered a hamstring strain.
And while Bamford himself suggests he may be ready, Bielsa was staying far more cautious and a bench role looks more likely.
“It is the fourth week since Patrick’s injury, Patrick is healthy, but he hasn’t played for for four weeks. But that puts him into doubt given his lack of training.”
Adam Forshaw contract extension
One man who has returned to form in dramatic fashion has been Adam Forshaw.
Having been out for two years with a hip problem, his return to action has been a huge plus for Leeds.
His deal though expires next summer and talk of an extension has gathered pace.
Asked about the situation, Bielsa said: “The extension of Forshaw’s contract is something between the player and the institution. Clearly his return to the club has been satisfactory. Whether he’s played as a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder, he’s offered solutions. In the absence of Kalvin Phillips, he has helped us resolve things.
“He’s offered us options that are very necessary in the No 8 position. His level of performance is of the same level before. And two years after, he’s able to play at the same level as before – and that is not common.
“He’s made big efforts to get back to this level and I’m sure he’s enjoying it.”