Noel Whelan has expressed his fears over how Leeds United will cope against Preston North End tonight if Pablo Hernandez is forced out due to injury.

Marcelo Bielsa revealed at his media conference on Monday that the Spaniard is a major doubt for the Deepdale clash after leaving St Andrew’s on Saturday with a protective boot on his left foot following the Whites’ 1-0 Championship defeat to Birmingham City.

Asked about Hernandez’s injury, Bielsa said: “He received a hit in the last minute of the previous game. Until today it has been a positive evolution but we are not going to take any risks if it could make it worse.”

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan explained how Leeds will be seriously weakened by the absence of the attacking midfielder, who has scored 12 goals and supplied 11 assists in the Championship this season.

“If Pablo Hernandez doesn’t play well, Leeds don’t play well, simple as that,” Whelan said. “So, if he’s not in the team, that’s a massive issue.

“He is the player that makes Leeds tick, gets on the ball and makes things happen. We’ve been creating a lot of chances, we’ve just not been putting them away.

“He can do things that no person can do at Leeds United, he’s always one step ahead and always had been, but this season we’ve seen a rejuvenated player that has absolutely everything, ticking every single box. Keeping him fit is absolutely massive until the end of the season.”

Leeds head to Preston in third place in the league, just a point behind Sheffield United in the automatic promotion places with Norwich City leading the way with six games to go.

Bielsa explained that fit-again Kemar Roofe will replace Hernandez in one of the attacking midfield slots if the Spaniard fails to recover for tonight.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED the club have agreed a six-figure fee as they fend off Southampton to close in on new signing.