Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that he will be without three key defenders for Leeds United’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United.
The Lowdown: Leeds face important game
The Whites have made a disappointing start to the season, picking up just two points from their opening four league games.
On Friday evening, Leeds make the trip to Newcastle, with both sides desperate for points and the final outcome extremely tough to predict.
The Latest: Trio missing for Whites
Speaking (via Leeds Live) to the media on Thursday ahead of the game, Bielsa confirmed that Diego Llorente and Robin Koch are both out injured, joining the suspended Pascal Struijk on the sidelines:
“Of the four centre-backs that we have, we are not able to count on Diego, Pascal or Koch but we’re in conditions to resolve the issue.”
It means Liam Cooper is Leeds’ only established centre-back option available at St James’ Park.
The Verdict: Far from ideal
It is an unfortunate situation for the Whites to find themselves in, making their task against Newcastle even more difficult.
It remains to be seen how Bielsa will deal with the defensive crisis, but Cooper could be paired with Luke Ayling at centre-back, with Stuart Dallas then filling in at right-back.
Ayling has been deployed in the middle over 100 times in his career, but he is far from an out-and-out central defender, however, so it to be thrown in against the almost unstoppable Allan Saint-Maximin, who averages five successful dribbles and 2.3 key passes per game, is going to be an uphill battle.
In other news, a Leeds player happy is unhappy for one key reason. Find out why here.
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