By Dave Woods

18th Oct, 2019 | 1:08pm

Bielsa confirms key first-team star will return from injury for Leeds v Birmingham

Leeds fans rejoice… Pablo Hernandez is fit for the game against Birmingham at Elland Road on Saturday. 

The creative heart of the team has recovered from injury and will be in the squad for the game, although it hasn’t been confirmed if he will start yet.

Marcelo Bielsa was talking in his pre-match press conference (live on the LUFC app, Friday, 12.30pm) ahead of the Championship game, the first since the international break and Leeds’ first opportunity to make a statement after losing to Millwall 2-1 last time out.

That’s as far as the good news goes, though, with Jamie Shackleton, Adam Forshaw and Liam Cooper still out.

“Pablo will be in the group,” Bielsa said on Friday. “Shackleton, Forshaw and Cooper are not. We need to wait for them to train with the rest.

“Shackleton is close, and Cooper may be the last to come back in, as his injury was more serious than the rest.”

Hernandez started off the season well, with two goals and two assists, but he was off the boil in the last few games he played, before limping off in the draw against Derby. Bielsa said he’d been carrying a knock and that could explain his lack of form.

Since then, he’s been out for three games and Leeds have lost two of them – this isn’t entirely coincidental.

After a fast start last season, Hernandez missed seven games early on and Leeds only won two of them.

If he’s 100% we’d expect him to come straight back into the XI on Saturday, with Stuart Dallas possibly dropping out for him.

There are other options though. Dallas could keep his place and one of the two underperforming wingers – Helder Costa or Jack Harrison – could be sacrificed. If it’s Harrison, we’d expect Costa to switch across to the left.

Either way, it’s a good problem to have. Leeds are much better when in-form Hernandez is playing.

STOP-PRESS!
Pablo Hernandez has been named in the starting line-up for the Leeds Under-23s today which means he will likely start on the bench on Saturday.

In other Leeds news, ‘Sooner rather than later’ – Big fitness boost for Leeds as key star delivers update