By Sean Fisher

17th Dec, 2022 | 10:10am

Leeds United could start Joel Robles against Manchester City after latest Illan Meslier update - Phil Hay

Illan Meslier’s untimely illness at Leeds United means the Whites could be forced to hand Joel Robles his first start in the Premier League this season, according to Phil Hay.

Leeds United are inching closer to their Premier League return on December 28 against Manchester City. The Whites have enjoyed a successful winter break, with friendly victories against both Elche and Real Sociedad during a hot-weather training camp in Spain.

Another friendly match against Monaco awaits on Wednesday 21 December, and then all attention turns towards facing the reigning champions.

Jesse Marsch is already facing selection issues after Meslier was diagnosed with glandular fever this week. The Frenchman will now need plenty of rest and recovery time, and Leeds could be forced to turn to Robles in their time of need, according to Phil Hay.

Robles joined the Whites on a free transfer in the summer after his Real Betis contract expired, and his only start for the Whites so far came in the 1-0 EFL Cup defeat to Wolves.

But the 32-year-old Spaniard – who was brought in to add some experience to the club’s goalkeeping department – could now be thrown into the mix against City.

Baptism of fire

Robles was fully aware when joining Leeds that he was arriving as a backup for the highly-regarded Meslier. The young Frenchman is viewed as a hugely exciting long-term prospect in Yorkshire.

Marsch went and signed Robles to ensure his goalkeeping department had a wily veteran in their ranks to help develop the young shot-stoppers at Elland Road.

Robles will need every ounce of that experience next Wednesday if he’s thrown in the mix against Erling Haaland. Leeds will be preparing for a backs-against-the-wall performance against the league champions.

Marsch will hope that his side’s extensive preparation over the winter will stand Leeds in good stead compared to City, who are still yet to have all their World Cup stars return to training.

But it’s still bound to be an incredibly tough match-up for the Whites and whoever is named as goalkeeper will inevitably endure a busy evening of action.

In other Leeds United news, Willy Gnonto has set the ball rolling for Enoch Owusu to leave Inter Milan this season