Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has admitted that he did not know whether Pablo Hernandez would be fit until the pre-match warm-up, Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Post reports.
Hernandez picked up an ankle knock in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Birmingham City and was a doubt for the midweek trip to Preston North End.
Many Leeds fans did not expect Hernandez to feature but there was a chance that he could make the bench.
However, Bielsa started the Spanish midfielder and he ended up playing the full 90 minutes as Leeds picked up a 2-0 win.
Hernandez is vitally important to this Leeds side and Bielsa wanted him fit to bolster their automatic promotion chances.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, as reported by Hay, Bielsa said: “We didn’t know (how he would cope). He was waiting until warming up previous to the game. But from this morning he started to make us feel that he was well.”
The 33-year-old has been the standout performer for the Whites this season, racking up 12 goals and 11 assists this season.
But Bielsa just needs to be wary that he does not overuse Hernandez and risk losing him for the run-in.
There are five games left for Leeds to secure automatic promotion and the prospect of the play-offs if they finish third.
Hernandez needs to be fully fit and firing to ensure Leeds are well-placed to win promotion to the Premier League.