By Mark Smith

25th Sep, 2021 | 9:15am

Phil Hay: Raphinha likely to start for Leeds v West Ham

Phil Hay has shared that Raphinha is likely to start for Leeds United against West Ham this afternoon.

The Brazilian wasn’t ruled out on Thursday but appeared to be a doubt after picking up that knock at Newcastle last week.

Footage emerged of the players arriving at the hotel last night ahead of today’s game, and Raphinha was spotted which sent Leeds fans wild.

Writing in his Athletic Q&A on Saturday morning, Hay shared what looks as though it will be a major boost.

“He wasn’t ruled out as of Thursday so he must have had a chance,” he wrote.

“If he’s fit I’d expect him to start because he’s one of Bielsa’s most influential players on form.”

Fingers crossed.

This would be perfect.

Given how many injuries the Whites are having to deal with, having someone such as Raphinha available could be a gamechanger – that is just how good he is.

The Brazilian is the one name that everyone cares about, and his availability would most likely make everyone forget about our defensive woes in terms of injuries.

Marcelo Bielsa isn’t one to risk his key players, but today may be the exception as he simply doesn’t have many other options.

Jack Harrison is also available after his positive COVID-19 test, so he should be on the bench ready to come on and make a difference if needed.

If Raphinha is in the squad, he has to start – it is as simple as that.

In other Leeds United news, Sky Sports pundit predicts major Whites change v West Ham, ‘second fiddle’ player to start