By Adefunmiloye Alani

17th Sep, 2021 | 5:10pm

Marcelo Bielsa: Leeds will look to neutralise the threat of Allan Saint-Maximin

Leeds face Newcastle at St. James Park on Friday evening, and they will be keen to finally secure their first Premier League win of the season.

With centre-back duo Robin Koch and Diego Llorente out injured and Pascal Struijk unavailable through suspension, Marcelo Bielsa has a defensive headache to worry about against the Magpies.

Allan Saint-Maximin is one of the best forwards in the top-flight on his day, and Bielsa has revealed whether there is a game plan to neutralise the threat of the Frenchman.

The Leeds head coach told Sky Sports: “Listen, every team in the Premier League has prominent forwards and Saint-Maximin is one of those.

“He is someone who isn’t confined to just one position as he is capable of occupying a wide berth and can also operate more centrally.

“It is the challenge of the entire team and our entire defensive structure to limit his impact, not just the job of one individual.”

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Tough task

Leeds could field under-23 captain Charlie Cresswell alongside Liam Cooper in central defence, and both will have to be careful not to make any rash tackles on Saint-Maximin, especially in the box.

While the jet-heeled winger is normally deployed on the right, he could be leading the line for the hosts with striker Callum Wilson out with an injury.

The Frenchman has the license to roam freely, and he will be coming up against all four Whites defenders and practically every of their outfield players.

He has a goal and two assists so far this term, and Newcastle largely rely on his creativity in the final third.

He could cause the Leeds defence a lot of problems, and Junior Firpo could have a lot of work to do against such a direct player if he wants to win their individual battle.

The left-back did not cover himself in glory at times against Liverpool, and Jack Harrison needs to offer him much-needed support on that wing.

If Bielsa’s men can limit the influence of the Newcastle star to the barest minimum, they have a great chance of leaving St James’ Park with all three points.

In other Leeds news, Gabriel Agbonlahor baffled by major news coming out of Elland Road.