Just when Leeds thought there was more positivity engulfing the club, they were rocked by yet another injury setback.
It’s been the story of their season, particularly from a defensive standpoint.
Leeds may have defeated Newcastle on Tuesday evening but after ten minutes they were dealt a crushing blow.
Despite coming through two sessions of murderball last week, Diego Llorente had to be substituted with an injury early on.
Phil Hay has since revealed that the Spaniard could miss up to a month of action after heading for scans on Wednesday.
As a result, Bielsa will have to scramble around to patch his defence together again.
The obvious answer to this conundrum would be to put Pascal Struijk at centre-back. The Dutchman came on during their win over the Magpies and performed well, standing out above a host of Leeds’ other players by winning 100% of his defensive duels.
That being said, this injury blow could open up the opportunity of first-team minutes for Charlie Cresswell.
It was revealed this week that fellow defender Oli Casey was set to go out on loan and with that in mind it appears Cresswell is next in the pecking order in terms of seniority to Struijk.
The 18-year-old has played just once under Bielsa, a defeat to Hull in the Carabao Cup earlier this season, but he’s highly thought of and there is surely no better time than now to hand him some sort of role in the senior set-up.
Speaking about the centre-back earlier this season after he signed a new contract, Noel Whelan only had praise for him. He told Football Insider: “His debut was fantastic against Hull, in my opinion, I thought he was one of the standout players even though we played so poorly on the night.
“He is the future, he’s one for the future. At that centre-half position he’s got great attributes, he’s very calm on the ball, a great size to him, he’s quick, he can head, he can pass. He’s the modern-day, young-centre half.”
Considering some of the defending we’ve seen from Leeds this term, being of a good size would be incredibly useful. The Whites have shipped the most goals from set-plays (10) this term of anyone in the Premier League and thus, his 6-foot frame could be used to good effect in that department.
Though, it’s his calm nature on the ball that’ll please Bielsa the most. He prefers his defenders to play out from the back and judging by his pass success rate of 81% in the Papa John’s Trophy this term, Cresswell is highly capable.
The teenager’s not been in the first team very often so now is the time to give him a chance to show what he’s capable of. After all, had Struijk not been afforded a rare chance at the beginning of the season with Liam Cooper’s absent through injury, we’d never have known how good he was.