By Craig Scott

22nd Oct, 2021 | 7:40am

Phil Hay 'surprised' by Marcelo Bielsa team news update for Leeds United v Wolves

Phil Hay is “surprised” by Marcelo Bielsa’s update on Kalvin Phillips with the Leeds United midfielder ruled out of playing versus Wolves on Saturday.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Bielsa confirmed that Phillips, Luke Ayling, Robin Koch, Junior Firpo and Patrick Bamford will all be unable to play in the Elland Road showdown against Bruno Lage’s in-form Wolves.

While speaking to the media, Leeds’ manager admitted that Phillips is “healthy” but suggested that a lack of match fitness means he won’t be starting on Saturday.

Hay was taken aback by Bielsa’s update on Phillips, saying on The Phil Hay Show podcast: “He’s healthy but Bielsa’s view is that having missed three weeks, he is not ready for Saturday. I don’t know if that means he’s not ready for the squad or it certainly sounded like he’s not ready for the starting line-up.

“I am a little bit surprised by that. I thought that if there’s a chance of getting Phillips in, he would in the circumstances.

“But Bielsa has his principles and this is one of them that if he isn’t convinced by a player’s fitness he just doesn’t play that. And that’s how it’s going to be for Phillips.

“There’s every chance Phillips will be fit for Norwich next weekend. I know we’ve got Arsenal in between and it’s not an insignificant game that, but I think it’s all eyes on the Premier League at the moment.

“It’s not great news ahead of the Wolves game.”

No risks

Leeds’ injury crisis is so bad that there’s no way Bielsa should be taking risks by starting unfit players in Premier League matches.

If Bamford, Ayling and Firpo were all fit then Bielsa may have opted to risk Phillips but because there are so many injury issues going into the Wolves game, it’s best that the Leeds manager just takes one more week to get everyone up to full speed.

Of course, Leeds play Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night and that could offer the Whites manager an opportunity to give Phillips and his injured teammates some game-time to nurse them back to fitness.

But playing against Wolves on Saturday isn’t going to be an easy feat with the West Midlands side in good form, winning four of their last five Premier League outings.

After losing to Southampton last Saturday, we need to respond against Wolves this weekend.

However, that’s going to be very difficult given the absences of such important first-team players.

In other Leeds United news, Jeff Stelling has predicted the scoreline of Leeds’ clash against Wolves.