By Kevin Phillips

11th Dec, 2020 | 1:00pm

Pundit Exclusive: Hernandez heir backed to join Leeds in Jan amid critical 24 hours

A Pablo Hernandez replacement could arrive at Leeds United next month – and tonight’s matchday squad against West Ham could provide a big transfer hint.

That is according to ex-England striker Kevin Phillips, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about the future of the Spanish playmaker.

Marcelo Bielsa named his starting XI for the Elland Road clash two days early, at his media conference on Wednesday, and it did not include Hernandez.

The manager explained the attacking midfielder is fit for selection but has to convince him he is sharp enough to play.

Phillips believes the writing could be on the wall for Hernandez’s United career, especially after he fell foul of Bielsa last month.

Hernandez was axed from the squad that were defeated 4-1 at Crystal Palace after he reacted angrily to being replaced by Tyler Roberts in the previous defeat to Leicester City.

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“If he isn’t in the squad [against West Ham], reading between the lines, it looks like he has been frozen out,” Phillips told Football Insider.

“Bielsa has said that he is available so if he is not in the squad you would say that the writing would be on the wall for him.

“There could be a January exit there to free up a salary for another defender or even someone in Hernandez’s position. It will be interesting to see what happens tonight.”

Hernandez, 35, is a huge favourite of Leeds fans after playing a critical role in their transformation under Bielsa.

He has been the team’s outstanding player since his 2016 arrival, twice winning the club’s player of the year award.

In other news, Leeds United may be set for blockbuster signing spree after company filing reveal.