The Athletic’s Phil Hay has confirmed a couple of major injury blows for Leeds United ahead of their Premier League clash against Burnley this afternoon.
The journalist initially revealed on Twitter that both Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper would only make their return for the Whites a couple of months into the New Year, and that’s something on which Bielsa shed some more light during his pre-match press conference.
He said: “We’ve been recovering players, even if Phillips and Cooper will return in March. Even if (Jamie) Shackleton comes back at the end of January, start of February, the amount of players we have will be increasing. We will see where we are in January if an alternative comes up that we take advantage of.”
It’s been no secret that, without Phillips, Leeds have looked a complete shadow of themselves this season in the Premier League. The Whites have won none of the six games that he has missed, including the trio of defeats against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal last month.
Cooper’s absence has also been keenly felt not just because he is the club captain, but also because of the number of injuries which have occurred to some of his defensive colleagues, with the likes of Robin Koch, Diego Llorente and Luke Ayling among others who have also been sidelined.
Leeds have conceded 36 goals this season in their 18 games in the Premier League, with only the division’s bottom two sides Newcastle and Norwich letting in more – a real indication of just how porous they have been.
Both Phillips and Cooper no doubt also play a huge role in the dressing room with their experience and leadership, and for the Whites to be missing them in a campaign which has seen them fall into a relegation battle is sure to have fans very worried.