Leeds United have suffered a major blow ahead of their Premier League clash against Southampton on Tuesday evening, with Robin Koch set to be missing once again.
The Germany international was a surprise omission from the side which beat Burnley 4-0 at the weekend, with Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa later revealing that the centre-back was absent due to injury as he said: “Koch has a small knock in his hip and he could have played but we preferred not to risk him. The same as Pablo (Hernandez).”
It now appears that the summer signing’s Premier League season is now officially over, with Bielsa confirming that Koch will not be made available for the final couple of games for the Whites due to protecting him for the Germany team ahead of the upcoming European Championship.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against the Saints, the Leeds manager said: “Koch has been given early leave with the potential for him to be called up or not called up to the German national team. I don’t know whether he’s going to be called up to the German national team or not.
“It’s just that he has a small (hip) niggle and we didn’t want to run the risk of a small niggle being aggravated into something bigger. The injury that he has is not important and we didn’t want to take the risk of him playing and making it worse so we anticipated his holidays in the same way we did so for Klich.”
The news is a major blow for Bielsa and Leeds, with Koch having the started the two games before the match against Burnley in the holding midfield role with Kalvin Phillips ruled out.
The German looked impressive in that position, especially in the 3-1 win against Spurs, winning seven of his 11 duels on the day (the most of any Leeds player), also making three tackles and boasting an 83% passing accuracy.
It certainly would have been interesting to see whether Bielsa could have utilised both Koch and Phillips in midfield together, or whether the German would have dropped back into the centre of defence in place of either Diego Llorente or Pascal Struijk.
Either way, losing him for the rest of the campaign just after he put in one of his finest displays for his new club is a gutting setback for Bielsa.
Meanwhile, Bielsa must drop this Leeds star tonight…