Marcelo Bielsa has told reporters his entire Leeds United team ahead of Friday’s clash against West Ham United at Elland Road – as per Leeds Live – following injuries to defenders Robin Koch and Diego Llorente.
Koch was withdrawn after just nine minutes during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea and has since undergone surgery in London to correct a knee issue he initially suffered against Liverpool. Llorente finished the match, but suffered a muscle problem.
Bielsa confirmed in the press conference that Koch is expected to be sidelined for three months while Llorente will miss at least another two weeks. A replacement alongside Liam Cooper is required, then, with the Whites boasting a couple of options.
Although makeshift, Bielsa stated that either Luke Ayling or Kalvin Phillips will be used alongside Cooper at centre-back. He confirmed that Rodrigo would replace Koch with Leeds live confirming as much.
“It could be Ayling, it could be Phillips. [Will he keep West Ham guessing?] [Names the entire team and basically it’s Rodrigo in for Koch on Friday],” Leeds Live reported Bielsa as saying, leaving two possible defensive line-ups.
TBR’s view – Two possible solutions, which is best?
With Rodrigo replacing Koch and Bielsa stating Ayling or Phillips will play at centre-back, there are two different solutions Bielsa will use to mask the loss of Koch and Llorente. The first option is Phillips in defence.
That would mean either Stuart Dallas or Klich replaces Phillips in holding midfield – and the other partners Rodrigo in attacking midfield. Ayling at centre-back means Dallas will fill in at right-back and Rodrigo alongside Klich, with Phillips in the four role.
Which is best? Keeping Phillips in his best position, holding midfield, is crucial. The chances are that Ayling – naturally a defender – will play at centre-back, Dallas at right-back, Gjanni Alioski at left-back and Rodrigo with Klich.