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Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo in contention to return for injury-hit Leeds

Mark Walker, PA
·2-min read

Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo could feature for Leeds Under-23s on Friday in a bid to prove their fitness in time for Monday’s Premier League game at West Ham.

Midfielder Phillips (calf) has missed Leeds’ last four matches and forward Rodrigo has been sidelined since the end of January due to a groin injury.

“Some players coming back from injuries will play in the (under-23s’) game tomorrow (against Wolves),” Bielsa said.

Winger Ian Poveda (ankle) and midfielder Jamie Shackleton (groin) are also nursing injuries and Bielsa did not clarify which of his injured players were closest to a return to contention.

“It all depends how they evolve in the following days,” the Argentinian said.

Defender Pascal Struijk was forced off in last Saturday’s home defeat to Aston Villa and Bielsa dodged a question on whether he is struggling for Monday.

Leeds have been without long-term absentees Adam Forshaw (hip) and Gaetano Berardi (knee) this season, while summer signing Robin Koch is working his way back from knee surgery.

Diego Llorente has been restricted to just three Premier League starts since arriving from Real Sociedad in September due to a series of muscle strains and Pablo Harnandez has also struggled with similar problems.

Bielsa agreed that this season had been unusual in terms of the amount of players who had sustained injuries at all clubs.

“Yes, it’s true what you say,” he said. “If we have a closer look at this hypothesis, it could be confirmed if you examine in more detail.

“What generated some problems for us was three factors – Berardi and Forshaw had long-term injuries and we suffered injuries to players in the same positions, or similar positions.

“For example, the absence of Pablo and Rodrigo at the same time, or Koch and Llorente. This increases the difficulty.

“It wasn’t a problem without a solution. In the centre-backs, (Luke) Ayling and Pascal (Struijk) occupied these positions and shone.

“Tyler (Roberts) and (Mateusz) Klich have played as offensive midfielders. They initially resolved the problem, but what happens is that the substitutions become more difficult throughout the game, but at the same time our opponents have had similar problems.”

Leeds have lost four of their last six league games following last week’s 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, but still sit 11th in the table, 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

West Ham will be bidding to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City to maintain their top-four challenge.