By Dave Woods

28th Nov, 2019 | 12:59pm

Bilesa delivers Nketiah update - Leeds striker set to feature on Friday

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa gave his strongest endorsement of Eddie Nketiah to date in his pre-match press conference at Thorp Arch on Thursday. 

Leeds confirmed that the Arsenal loanee was back in full training on Thursday morning and he was pictured giving the thumbs up to the cameras.

Talking in his press conference (live in the LUFC app, Thurs, 12.30pm), Bielsa said that Nketiah would probably play for the Under-23s on Friday when they take on Sheffield United at Thorp Arch.

Asked whether he thought Nketiah would stay past January, with speculation that Arsenal will recall him due to a lack of game time, Bielsa said he hoped that the striker would stay.

And he went further, saying that he hoped that Nketiah would not only stay for the rest of the season, but for next season as well.

The press conference was brought back to this comment later on, when Bielsa was asked whether he had meant to say he wanted him for the 20/21 season too, or whether it had been lost in translation.

Bielsa doubled down saying, “That would be the idea. For him to be a success at Leeds. It’s clear Leeds consider Nketiah at a top level and we feel Leeds is the proper place for him to develop. Obviously, we can’t compete with top teams in the Premier League. But if he has success at Leeds, the next step for him is at one of the top clubs in the Premier League.”

That’s a ringing endorsement of a player who has impressed whenever he’s played for Leeds. Unfortunately, that might not be enough for Arsenal, who know that Nketiah could walk into most starting XIs in the Championship.

The hope will be that Bielsa can convince Arsenal that Leeds is the best place for him and that there’s a path that he’s on that will lead to him being the very best player he can be.

It all comes down to whether Arsenal value Bielsa’s tutelage over starting regular games. Nketiah is firmly the understudy at Leeds and that’s not likely to change without an injury or a dramatic loss of form from Patrick Bamford.

In other Leeds United news, One change, Costa to start – Predicted Leeds starting XI v Middlesbrough