Marcelo Bielsa admits he is hopeful that Kalvin Phillips and Kiko Casilla will be fit for Wednesday night’s trip to face Middlesbrough – but admits both players go into the game carrying problems.
Star midfielder Phillips was substituted after just 38 minutes of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Reading after suffering a kick on the calf. And while Phillips himself admitted after the game he hopes to be fit for the clash, Bielsa admits he still has concerns over his availability.
Speaking at a press conference to preview the game, Bielsa said: “It’s a kick. He’ll play depending if the pain disappears as well. It’s the same situation as Kiko. But with both players I am optimistic.”
There were unfounded claims after Saturday’s match that goalkeeper Casilla suffered a broken finger and while Bielsa denied this, he did admit the Spaniard – who still has an FA charge hanging over him – is expected to start.
“He has a problem but maybe he plays. Again, this depends on the level of the pain, but if he can support the level of the pain I think he is going to play.”
It was then put to Bielsa that many Leeds supporters feel they are witnessing the best football at Elland Road they have ever seen.
And while the popular Argentinian coach admitted he welcomed the accolades, he insisted it would all count for nothing unless his second-placed side ensured they finish the season promoted to the Premier League.
“I value this conclusion, even more because what I believe is when you play well is the short fact to win,” Bielsa commented.
“But in this situation winning means promotion. It’s not like you play well and win some matches, it means you are promoted, so means something difference.
“So the final evaluation of this Leeds team is going to be linked to promotion or not.”
Surveying Leeds’ upturn in fortunes, Bielsa insisted he’d not changed anything in particular.
“I didn’t see big change. I think if we talk about luck, it’s not fair enough because we ignore other things as well,” he added.
“But I can not find solid arguments to answer your question.
“What I can tell you that football is a discipline where maybe you have the same performance but get different results. That makes football unpredictable and emotional. Because there is nothing that says clearly what’s going to happen because in front of the same people per performance you have different effects. That is why football is so attractive.”
Meanwhile, former favourite Gary McAllister has become the latest former player to purr over Leeds’ performances under Bielsa, but has explained why the pressures on them to secure promotion are greater than that of their rivals.