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Could Diego Llorente be outside contender for Leeds midfield role?

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Leeds United

Could Diego Llorente be outside contender for Leeds midfield role?

Leeds United fans were given some mixed injury news ahead of Friday’s trip to Wolves today, with Marcelo Bielsa confirming that Diego Llorente and Mateusz Klich are fit for the game, while Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo Moreno are unavailable (via Leeds Live).

The standout news arguably concerns Phillips still being unavailable. Leeds really struggled without the England international at the weekend, as they have done on several occasions when he has been absent this season.

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Pascal Struijk has tended to be the one to replace Phillips. Unfortunately however, the youngster endured a tough afternoon at Arsenal.

The 21-year-old has been a revelation at centre-back. However, he has found the going much tougher when pushed forward. So perhaps Bielsa may be tempted to make a change for Friday.

And perhaps, there may actually be one option amongst the four names Bielsa provided an injury update on.

Admittedly, it seems really difficult to imagine Llorente starting this week. The Spaniard has endured a torrid time with injury since his £20 million summer move.

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He has made just two appearances for the Whites. And his most recent outing was over after 10 minutes due to his latest problem.

Llorente unlikely to start this week, but perhaps he could be Bielsa’s wildcard

So Bielsa would be forgiven for being incredibly cautious with the 27-year-old. However, if he is confident that he is fully fit, then perhaps he could consider deploying Llorente in Phillips’s position.

 

It is a role that Bielsa has backed Llorente for in the past. Shortly after his arrival, he suggested that the plan was for the former Real Sociedad man to also provide cover in the number four role in the future (via Leeds Live).

Llorente appears to have the composure for a role where he needs to be more progressive with the ball. And there would be few concerns about how combative he would be.

That would allow Struijk to return to centre-back. It would also enable Luke Ayling to reignite his partnership with Raphinha down the right flank.

Of course, it seems highly unlikely. Llorente can hardly afford to suffer another setback before he has enjoyed a run in the side.

But if Bielsa is confident about his fitness, then perhaps he could yet be an outside contender for the one conundrum the Leeds boss is yet to solve.

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