While several of Leeds United’s summer signings have been able to hit the ground running, one marquee addition continues to wait for the chance to make their debut for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Diego Llorente has been injured for much of the early stages of his time at Elland Road. He initially made the bench for the draw with Manchester City. However, he sustained a groin problem while on international duty shortly after.
Since then, there have been several questions put to Bielsa in his press conferences concerning Llorente. But he is yet to return to the match day squad.
However, there were encouraging signs last week. Bielsa confirmed that he is now back in training (via Leeds Live). And he could be briefly seen working with the first-team in a video posted on the club’s YouTube channel (0:27) ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton.
So it would certainly appear that he is getting close to putting pressure on Liam Cooper and Robin Koch.
But there is a slight issue for Llorente as he awaits the chance to make his Leeds bow.
Given the fitness levels Bielsa demands, it is not uncommon for first-team players returning from injury to represent the under-23s on their way back into the boss’ thinking.
Unfortunately for Llorente, Mark Jackson’s side are currently one week into a three-week break. It is another fortnight before they face Aston Villa.
Of course, circumstances can change. Should Leeds lose any of their defenders to injury or suspension in the near future, Llorente must be in contention to come in ahead of schedule.
But it may take longer for Llorente – who earns £22,000-a-week, according to Spotrac – to get up to speed without an under-23 game given how long he has been out.
And if Bielsa wants him to feature for Jackson’s side before he considers him, the Spaniard is unlikely to be on the bench for either of the club’s next two games at least.