Predicted Leeds United starting XI v Southampton after injury news
Marcelo Bielsa faces a major midfield dilemma against Southampton with Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips battling to return from injury.
Phillips, 25, was withdrawn from international duty with England last week due to an issue sustained in Leeds’ 1-0 win over Watford on October 2, and Bielsa is unsure over his availability for Saturday’s trip to the south-coast, while he ruled Patrick Bamford out of the Premier League clash.
“Bamford won’t play, Kalvin has chances of being able to do so,” Bielsa said on Thursday, as relayed by his translator Andres Clavijo via a live broadcast on the official Leeds United YouTube account.
“He [Phillips] has possibilities to play and we will decide between today, tomorrow and Saturday.”
Bielsa also expressed doubts over Raphinha’s participation against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, with the Brazilian in action for his national team in the early hours of Friday.
“If there is any risk that fatigue could cause injuries then we won’t risk him,” he said.
With that in mind, there could be a couple of changes this weekend to the Leeds side that beat Watford last time out.
The defence should stay the same, though, with Bielsa seemingly ruling out Luke Ayling who is at the “halfway stage of his process of recovery” as well as Robin Koch, who is set to undergo a procedure in the US.
As such, Jamie Shackleton, Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper and Junior Firpo are expected to start in front of Illan Meslier in the Whites goal.
Mateusz Klich, Stuart Dallas and Dan James, all in international action during the past week, should keep their places in midfield, with the former two well-rested after starting on the bench in midweek.
However, Raphinha looks likely to miss out against Southampton, while Phillips may not be risked, at least not from the beginning.
Raphinha’s replacement looks pretty obvious in Jack Harrison, who would be making his first start since September 12.
But there are a couple of candidates to fill in for Phillips, with Pascal Struijk and Tyler Roberts competing for a spot, while Bielsa confirmed that Adam Forshaw is fit.
However, with Dallas and Klich more suited to playing advanced roles in midfield, Bielsa may elect to hand a start to Struijk, rather than the attack-minded Tyler Roberts.
That could see the Whites float between a four-man and five-man defence with Struijk able to slot in at centre-back or holding midfield.
Rodrigo will start as centre-forward once more in Bamford’s absence.
Here’s how we expect Leeds to line up at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday:
In other Leeds United news, Simon Jordan was left stunned on Wednesday as Trevor Sinclair backed this 51-year-old to be the Whites boss.