Marcelo Bielsa gives fitness update on five Leeds players ahead of Manchester United clash

The Leeds manager revealed one key man could be in line to return on Sunday.
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Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Stuart Dallas could be in line to return to the Leeds United team for Sunday’s Premier League encounter with Manchester United.

A huge game in any season, this weekend’s clash has added significance given it’s the first time United fans have travelled to Elland Road for a league match since 2003, while it’s also the first time Daniel James has come up against the Red Devils since his deadline-day switch to Yorkshire in the summer.

James is almost certain to start for Leeds when Ralf Rangnick’s men come to town, while Bielsa confirmed on Friday there is a chance Dallas could play.

Dallas could might be in line for a return to  the Leeds squad. Credit: Getty.Dallas could might be in line for a return to  the Leeds squad. Credit: Getty.
Dallas could might be in line for a return to the Leeds squad. Credit: Getty.

The Northern Ireland international was withdrawn after just nine minutes in last weekend’s 3-0 loss to Everton due to an injury, and was replaced by Leo Hjelde, who also ended the game limping.

The latter looks set to miss out against the Red Devils, but the prognosis on Dallas is more promising.

“Dallas is recovering, he hasn’t been discarded from Sunday’s game,” Bielsa said in his pre-match press conference.

“Hjelde has an injury in his knee and if the process in the next few weeks is effective he would be available again. It could happen that he may not recover in those 20 days which would result in him having to have surgery.”

The Argentine also confirmed that senior players Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford are still absent.

Bamford and Phillips won’t be involved at Elland Road. Credit: getty.Bamford and Phillips won’t be involved at Elland Road. Credit: getty.
Bamford and Phillips won’t be involved at Elland Road. Credit: getty.

"Kalvin and Cooper continue their normal processes," he said. "The objective is that they become available in March. The medical expectation was 12 weeks and that hasn’t changed. Bamford continues to have the same problem.”

Meanwhile, Junior Firpo could be in line to return after missing the last three games through injury.

Bielsa’s view of Rangnick

Sunday’s game is the first time the experienced duo of Bielsa and Rangnick will come face to face in the Premier League.

The pair are widely credited for influencing the careers of many of the world’s top managers - including Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp - but are having mixed seasons in 2021/22.

Leeds are in the grips of a relegation battle, while Rangnick is struggling to find a way of getting his United side to dominate matches.

Asked about how this Red Devils team differ from the one which beat Leeds 5-1 on the opening weekend of the season, Bielsa responded: “Yes, there are differences between the styles and this comment you make about the high press is the one that stands out the most.

“To evaluate the opponent, I don’t think it’s convenient, it’s more about us and how we fare against them.”