Leeds United travel to Bolton Wanderers this weekend with every chance of moving clear of the chasing pack in the Championship table, and the club have been buoyed by a huge injury boost with the hectic Christmas period approaching.
Marcelo Bielsa has been hit with a bizarre succession of injuries so far this season. Every week seems to throw up a new problem for the club, but he has received some good news this week in the shape of Patrick Bamford’s return.
Bamford was one of the first major casualties of the season, with a knee ligament injury ruling him out for four months at the start of September.
The setback deprived Bielsa of an alternative senior option to Kemar Roofe in attack, and he was forced to rely on 19-year-old Tyler Roberts during Roofe’s absence earlier in the season.
Roberts offers a similar set of attributes to Roofe, albeit markedly less refined at the early stage in his career, but Bamford offers a genuine plan B option for Bielsa to exploit against Bolton tomorrow afternoon.
Speaking ahead of the game Bielsa revealed that Bamford is fit enough to start the match at the end of a week in which he bagged a hat-trick for the U23 side (via Yorkshire Evening Post).
“He is well and he is available for the team, but of course, to reach the level he had before getting injured he needs more activity and more games, but he’s available to be a starter or to play as a substitute.”
Bielsa’s admission that Bamford is fit to start the game suggests the summer recruit is back to full fitness.
It’s unlikely that Bamford will be deployed from the outset as he will be lacking match sharpness following his lengthy stint on the sideline, but his availability will give Bielsa an alternative option to utilise in attack if Leeds struggle to break down the hosts at the Macron Stadium.
Standing at nearly 6’1″, Bamford provides a physical presence and aerial threat which Roofe is lacking.
Bielsa swears by the possession-based style which he has built his career off and he has previously suggested that plan B options are not in his nature, but if he wants to survive in this league he will need to make minor tactical tweaks to maximise Leeds’ chances of securing promotion.
Leeds will fancy their chances of breaking Bolton down without needing to resort to a plan B approach tomorrow afternoon, but with Bamford available once again they have a genuine alternative to offer a fresh dynamic from the bench.
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