After seeing him forced off with injury after just 21 minutes of Leeds’ 3-1 win against Leicester in the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa would have been hoping that Rodrigo hadn’t suffered any serious damage.
Whilst the Spain international hasn’t exactly set the world alight at Elland Road, he has slowly established himself as a key part of Bielsa’s side in his debut campaign in English football, starting the last nine Premier League games.
But, speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash against Everton, Bielsa confirmed: “Rodrigo is having a scan at the moment to evaluate his condition. He had an action where both his feet were very wide apart and potentially, that excessive stretch could have caused a muscle injury.”
The Leeds boss would add that the injuries to both Raphinha and Patrick Bamford are “less worrying”, and that they are “more simple” to overcome than Rodrigo’s.
Even in the best-case scenario, Bielsa would surely be unwilling to risk Rodrigo against the Toffees, especially given he has just seen first-hand what can happen to players when they’re perhaps brought back too quickly, such as Diego Llorente.
With Pablo Hernandez not as young as he once was and not in favour – he hasn’t started in the Premier League for Bielsa since November 2 – Rodrigo really is somewhat of a unique player in this current Leeds squad in terms of what he brings to the table.
Naturally a striker who can play out wide, he’s been playing in a more withdrawn role at Elland Road, but with the licence to push forward and support Bamford.
And, after an impressive cameo against Arsenal earlier this season, former Leeds man Noel Whelan explained just how important Rodrigo is to this side: “He’s always looking for it, he’s never ever standing still, he’s always on the move and that’s what I like about him. He can’t be marked, he’s always looking for a space – very much the next Hernandez.
“He is a player that looks like he can make things happen. He’s very intelligent, he brings other people into play and makes space for them.”
Leeds don’t have a like-for-like replacement for Rodrigo, which gives Bielsa a major headache in terms of how he goes about shuffling his team or his tactics around before the clash against Everton.
Rodrigo’s absence is likely to be a game-changer for the hosts on Wednesday night.