Marcelo Bielsa could be forced into handing Diego Llorente his Leeds United debut against Chelsea this evening if Robin Koch misses the game through injury.
There was no mention of Koch picking up a knock in Bielsa’s pre-match press conference.
However, Football Insider have reported that he has missed training this week and could be a doubt for the game at Stamford Bridge.
That was backed up by a training video from Thorp Arch posted by Leeds on its YouTube channel. Pablo Hernandez was training despite being ruled out of today’s game. Koch was nowhere to be seen.
In his press conference, Bielsa did say that Llorente is fit but that he’d prefer to play him in the Under-23s first. They don’t play until a week on Monday.
However, in light of the Koch news, he did also make what could be a seen as a cryptic hint that he might be forced to hand Llorente his debut earlier.
As quoted by Adam Pope he said, “We hope we don’t have a situation where we have to accelerate his process into the team.”
“We hope we don’t have a situation where we have to accelerate his process into the team.” #lufc
— Adam Pope (@apopey) December 3, 2020
He also said, “You may have to call on a player who is healthy but does not have the ideal physical performance.”
We might be overthinking this but if Koch is out then we may well see Llorente for the first time at Stamford Bridge.
Bielsa does have other options. Pascal Struijk is fit and available but Bielsa might think that a full Spain international would be better against the Chelsea attack. And he could be tempted to play a back three with both Struijk and Koch.
Struijk put in a decent performance against Liverpool but it’s a big ask for the youngster to hold off the Chelsea attack.
We’re excited to see Llorente – he looked awesome for Spain in their friendly against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo earlier this season – but we’d prefer it to happen in the natural timeline.
We desperately hope that Koch is fit for the game and that he missed training as a precaution.
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