Marcelo Bielsa has provided an injury update over Liam Cooper – and named the man he feels is Leeds’ most complete footballer.
The Whites go into Saturday’s match against Millwall looking to build on Tuesday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over West Brom – a result which sent them, for 24 hours at least, back to the top of the table.
But they will go into Saturday’s trip to The Den minus the services of captain Cooper, who limped off with a groin strain and midfielder Jamie Shackleton (hamstring), with Bielsa providing an update on the pair.
Bielsa revealed Gaetano Berardi is likely to start for Cooper in the centre of defence on Saturday – but did say he “expects” his captain to return “before” his projected six-week absence.
Bielsa also says says Kalvin Phillips, or youngster Pascal Struijk can also play there, while in midfield he admitted Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw remain sidelined for the clash. That means either Mateusz Klich could drop back from his more advanced midfield role with Tyler Roberts coming in – or Stuart Dallas can switch to cover Shackelton in midfield with Luke Ayling coming in at right-back.
“He [Hernandez] is better, but he and Forshaw are not going to be in the group on Saturday,” he said, before adding on Berardi: “Berardi is a very good header. Size is one of the factors. Also, you can resolve the problem of the aerial play with small height, but good tempo to jump.”
Either way, Bielsa believes Dallas deserves so much credit this season for his form at Leeds, and says his versatility gives Leeds so many options, knowing he is capable of playing anywhere on the pitch.
“It’s not usual to find a player like that. He can play on both sides, even if he’s right-footed,” Bielsa insisted. “He has the agility of a winger, power of a defender. Technically, Dallas is a complete player.
“He has enough aerial play to play everywhere on the pitch. Even if he’s a player down the sides, when he has to play in the centre he has no issues.”
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