By Nick Ware

23rd Sep, 2021 | 10:30am

Predicted Leeds United starting XI v West Ham

Marcelo Bielsa must piece together a Leeds United side for a crunch Premier League clash against West Ham on Saturday, amid a mounting injury list.

The Whites are winless in five league games thus far, but they have not been helped by a number of key absences, especially in defence.

Robin Koch and Diego Llorente have barely featured this season and there are no positive signs will be back at Elland Road this weekend.

With Pascal Struijk serving the final game of his three-match suspension, and Luke Ayling’s participation in severe doubt after being substituted with a knee injury against Newcastle United last week [Leeds official website], Bielsa has some big calls to make in front of Illan Meslier in goal.

Stuart Dallas and Junior Firpo are the likely full-back options, while captain Liam Cooper is the only senior central defender.

The question of who joins him, though, is up for debate.

Under-23s captain Charlie Cresswell made just his second start for the club in Tuesday night’s penalty shoot-out success over Fulham in the League Cup, but he sufficiently impressed to give him a chance of featuring against West Ham.

His partner against Fulham was Kalvin Phillips, and that may well be who Bielsa turns to.

But given West Ham’s strong midfield duo of Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice, Phillips may be required there to ensure the Whites keep an element of control, and he can always tuck in to make it a three-man central defence alongside Cooper and Cresswell.

Ahead of Phillips is likely to be Mateusz Klich and Rodrigo, but there are doubts over the star attacking trio.

Jack Harrison has missed the last two games due to a positive COVID-19 case, Raphinha hobbled off against Newcastle and had ice strapped to his leg, while Patrick Bamford has been spotted sporting a banded ankle on Twitter.

However, the England international said he would be fine for the visit of West Ham on Saturday.

There is less certainty on wingers Harrison and Raphinha, but they should hopefully be back, meaning £25million man Dan James [Sky Sports] may be relegated back to the bench, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him or Jamie Shackleton handed roles in the starting XI, especially if fitness tests are failed for other players.

Here’s how we expect Leeds to line up on Saturday, with four changes made from Tuesday…

Out go Shackleton, James, Crysencio Summerville and Tyler Roberts, and in come Cooper, Raphinha, Harrison and Bamford.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay has shared whether Gaetano Berardi could make a sensational