Marcelo Bielsa has admitted he faces a difficult decision over whether to recall fit-again skipper Liam Cooper to his starting line-up.
Cooper has missed Leeds’ last four matches due to suspension and injury, but is available for Saturday lunchtime’s Premier League game at Burnley. Midfielder Kalvin Phillips, winger Raphinha and forward Rodrigo are also pushing for recalls to the starting XI after recently recovering from injuries.
“He has recovered his health, he hasn’t got any injuries which prevent him from participating,” said Bielsa, who has praised Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
When asked if he had some difficult choices to make over his selection for Saturday, Bielsa said: “Not having injured players shouldn’t be interpreted as something difficult but I understand what you are asking me.
“Having so many options, the decisions become more difficult. But it’s important to consider that to be healthy is the primary condition to opt for a space inside the team, but to be ready physically, sportingly, is not only to be healthy and to have a good physical performance but to transform this into a football performance.
“It’s not the same for an player who’s been out for an long time. After 10 days, the sporting part they start to lose it.
“The one who spends a lot of time out, first they’re healthy and then they get to good, apt physical levels, then they develop football activities in the training. Eleven against 11.
“Then if they are able to perform with the under-23s then they are able to improve their form, but a game in the Premier League is above all of that. The demand is a lot higher.
“The finesse to play in the Premier League, you get that by playing in the Premier League, but also by accumulating games. For a player, apart from being a starter, they have to be a starter but also play well.
“For a player to be a starter and not play well is worse than not starting. And for the team you have to measure if the quality of the player who is coming in with respect to the player who is coming out, if it’s fair the difference and the weakness in the sporting form they have.
‘Dirty Leeds’ tag
Bielsa was also asked whether he was concerned about the perception of Leeds from the outside. For years the Whites have had the ‘Dirty Leeds’ tag and the Argentinian coach admitted he cares about the club’s image.
Bielsa said: “It’s very common for human beings to say that they do not care what the rest of the people think. For me, it is very important what the rest think because the prestige depends on this.
“Then you have to see who the ones who have these opinions and the arguments they use to have the opinions.
“Praise that is badly founded does not generate satisfaction. And a critic without argument does not produce sadness, so the opinion of others does matter for me.
“Fundamentally, I care about the people who are close to us, what they think because the sentiment they have acts like a light. Because they are able to look at the same thing, but more calm.
“And on top of that, the happiness that it generates for them, for the team of Leeds, means that our public opinion is the most important.”