Kevin Phillips says Ian Poveda could be one of a ‘few surprises’ in the Leeds line-up to face Brighton on Saturday afternoon.
Poveda is still waiting for a full Premier League debut, having been limited to 12 substitute appearances thus far, but it may have opened up perfectly for him ahead of the trip to the Amex Stadium.
Raphinha remains out with the hip injury he sustained in the win against Manchester City, and perhaps more worryingly given the lack of depth now at that position, there was no sign of fellow winger Helder Costa at Thorp Arch as Leeds posted their ‘Inside Training’ video.
Costa was forced off with an apparent back problem against Manchester United last week, and the footage seems to suggest the concerns about his fitness will prove true.
Has Bielsa dropped Poveda ‘hint’?
Bielsa was tight-lipped on the possibility of a Poveda start, keen to keep opponents Brighton guessing.
“Anything that indicates the 11 for the next game, I look to avoid,” he said, as quoted by Leeds Live.
But Phillips reckons his silence could be telling.
“We all know how stubborn Bielsa is. He doesn’t give a lot away.
“He’s his own man. So it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few surprises there. Poveda could be one of those.”
The 21-year-old has racked up a total of 288 minutes off the bench in 2020/21.
In that short time, he’s impressively created three big chances, but none of them yielded an assist.
Transfer Tavern verdict
In all honesty, it’s a surprise that Poveda hasn’t earned a league start already given the positive impact he has repeatedly made from the bench.
Ordinarily, you would expect a team in Leeds’ position – comfortably mid-table without much prospect really challenging for Europe – to hand out opportunities to young players in the final games of the season.
For Poveda, though, this could be an excellent opportunity to stake a claim to a greater role come 2021/22.
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