Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Kalvin Phillips is in line to start for Leeds against Arsenal on Sunday after recovering from injury.
Phillips tore shoulder ligaments in last month’s home defeat to Wolves and has missed Leeds’ last three Premier League matches, including successive 4-1 defeats to Leicester and Crystal Palace.
When asked if the England international was fit enough to start at Elland Road, Bielsa said: “It’s probable. I can’t guarantee it, but it’s probable.”
Leeds will also be boosted by the return of club record signing Rodrigo, who has also missed the last two games after a period of isolation having recently tested positive for Covid-19.
“It’s less likely he (Rodrigo) will start,” Bielsa added. “But he will be there (in the squad).”
Leeds have missed Phillips’ presence in front of Bielsa’s defence, slipping to 15th place following back-to-back defeats.
The 24-year-old’s latest setback – he missed the final three games of last season due to a knee injury – also cost him his place in the England squad.
He missed the friendly win against the Republic of Ireland and last week’s Nations League games against Belgium and Iceland.
“Phillips is a player who usually plays,” Bielsa added. “The players who play regularly, it’s always important to count on them.
“The evolution of Phillips is a constant one. He has a capacity to analyse and criticise himself and he finds what he needs to improve and correct his game – and he does this by himself.”
Phillips’ return is offset by news Pablo Hernandez will miss out due to a minor muscle strain. Fellow midfielder Jamie Shackleton (thigh) and defender Diego Llorente (groin) remain sidelined.
Skipper Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klich, Tyler Roberts, Robin Koch and Ezgjan Alioski are all available following international duty.
New deal for Struijk
Leeds confirmed earlier on Friday that defender Pascal Struijk had signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract.
The versatile 21-year-old has made five appearances for Leeds in all competitions this season, including four in the top flight.
Struijk, who arrived at Elland Road from Ajax in January 2018, made his first-team debut in the Sky Bet Championship last season in a 2-0 home win against Hull.
He made five league appearances in total as Leeds won the Championship title. He also started in their first Premier League game in 16 years on the opening day of the current campaign.