With Raphinha facing a race against time to make it for Leeds United’s Premier League clash against Southampton today, Marcelo Bielsa has a big decision to make on whether he starts the Brazilian if the 24-year-old is available.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, the Leeds manager said: “There’s no doubt that there’s a short turnaround but the options that he has to participate in the game on Saturday depends on whether he plays this final game tonight, how many minutes he plays, how he finishes the game after he’s participated in it, how efficient the rest he can have in the next 36 hours is, considering that a third of those hours he will spend flying and if there’s any risk that fatigue will cause injuries then we won’t risk him.
“There’s so many aspects to consider that I can’t offer you any certainties either way.”
If the Leeds talisman isn’t able to pass a late fitness check, then Bielsa surely has to call upon Jack Harrison against the Saints.
Former Leeds goalkeeper Paul Robinson has waxed lyrical about what Harrison brings to the table earlier this summer and insisted that he has become a key figure under Bielsa.
The 41-year-old said: “I think the player he has developed into, not just on the field, but his stature and physical fitness, I think he’s becoming an all-round key component of this Bielsa side.
“I like Jack, he’s got a lot of talent, he’s got speed, he’s direct, scores goals, creates goals and for that price tag, I think it’s an absolute no-brainer. They have to make that signing.”
Robinson added that the £13.5m-rated Harrison “creates, he scores, (and) he offers Leeds something else”, and indeed he was one of Leeds’ most prolific campaigners last season with eight goals and eight assists in 36 Premier League games for the club.
While his start to the current campaign has been disappointing to say the least – no goals or assists in his five top-flight appearances thus far – his recent little spell on the sidelines as Dan James got the nod could just have lit the fire that he needed.
The 24-year-old, who was dubbed as “exciting to watch” by Noel Whelan, could be the man to fill Raphinha’s boots today against the Southampton if the Brazilian cannot feature.