Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa gave little away when questioned if Eddie Nketiah would replace Patrick Bamford in the starting line-up – and had warm words of praise for new Derby boss Phillip Cocu.
The Whites and the Rams locked horns four times last season, including their two play-off semi-finals, and much has been made about the recent history between the sides ahead of Saturday lunchtime’s renewal.
However, Bielsa insists last season’s games would have no bearing on the match at Elland Road.
“I don’t link the match on Saturday with those of last season,” Bielsa said, who also confirmed Adam Forshaw would again miss out with a hip injury.
“I know what happens on Saturday doesn’t modify what’s happened in the past. So I think that for the team it’s best to think this way.”
Derby are now managed by Cocu; the Dutchman replacing Frank Lampard in the summer, but Bielsa doesn’t think the game will be any easier all the same.
“Cocu is a manager with a lot of prestige,” Bielsa added. “As every Dutch manager, he has a link with the ball possession and to creative, dynamic play.
“We should not factor in their shaky start. Championship teams have ups and downs. In this case it’s a new manager. It’s a natural thing that the adaptation needs time.
“I have to say that the performance they have had is better than the results.”
Plenty of Leeds supporters are calling for loanee Eddie Nketiah to replace Patrick Bamford in the starting line-up, especially after the Arsenal man was labelled a “complete player” after the win at Barnsley.
And rather than give anything away, Bielsa insisted he was just glad to have the dilemma in attack.
“It’s one of the team options that we have. It’s important player and how he can change the impact and development of a match We are already grateful that we can have him,” he said.
It was suggested by Jermaine Beckford that Bielsa may have to “have a little word” with Bamford over his minor strop that followed his substitution at Oakwel.
And when asked if the duo compliment each other, Bielsa continued: “Yes, of course they give different things to the team but also they can play together.
“When two players in the same position play in the same team it’s necessary to see which one doesn’t play and what we’ll lose when the player leaves if the other plays.
“Because in the case they play together it’s not always that you have attackers in the team you’re going to be more dangerous.
“The centre-forward for them is important, the kind of passes they receive.
“So if they play together they can do it but sometimes we have two centre forwards but we don’t have the player who can assist them.”
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