By Noel Whelan

21st Oct, 2019 | 11:12am

Exclusive: Whelan predicts Leeds starting XI v Preston, suggests big name will be axed

Noel Whelan has predicted Marcelo Bielsa will axe £15million summer signing Helder Costa from the Leeds United team if Pablo Hernandez is fit to return tomorrow.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United forward believes that is the only likely change to the Leeds side that beat Birmingham City 1-0 on Saturday.

Hernandez has missed the last four Leeds matches due to injury and was a surprising absentee from the squad at the weekend after playing half-an-hour for the Under-23s on Friday.

Second-placed Leeds travel to Preston North End tomorrow aiming to leapfrog leaders West Brom in the table.

“I’m not expecting too many changes,” Whelan told Football Insider. “The only one I can see is Helder Costa coming out and Pablo Hernandez coming in.

“Marcelo Bielsa will stick with the other players who beat Birmingham. He is very loyal, and it’s only usually injuries or suspensions that force his hand.

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“If Pablo is fully fit and available to start, he could come straight in rather than go on to the bench. It depends whether Bielsa thinks he can get 60 minutes out of him rather than 30.

“Costa has had one good game out of four since replacing Pablo in the team. That’s not good enough, and I’d expect him to be dropped rather than Jack Harrison.”

Costa has featured in all 12 of Leeds’ Championship matches this season, but been in the starting XI only four times.

He has yet to score for United in the league, with his only goal for the club coming in the League Cup.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that the club have suffered a major new injury blow to star player.