'Huge blow' - Exclusive: Noel Whelan reacts as key Leeds player ruled out of Derby showdown
Noel Whelan has claimed the absence of Tyler Roberts for Leeds United’s play-off opener against Derby County is a “huge blow”.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker lamented the unavailability of the January 2018 signing, who has made the number 10 role his own in recent months.
Marcelo Bielsa revealed at his media conference on Thursday that Roberts has been ruled out of the Saturday evening first leg at Pride Park with an ankle injury.
“It is a huge blow”, Whelan told Football Insider. “Tyler Roberts has showed really encouraging signs in recent months and has started to justify Bielsa’s faith in him.
“He changed the game when he came on against Villa and his directness and ability to drive forward with the ball helps the team open up defences.
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“I expect Leeds to go with three midfielders, with Forshaw, Phillips and Klich, and try and stay in the tie. When you go away from home you have to be nice and compact. The aim is to go back to Elland Road with something.
“In a two-legged clash you must be sensible, and pick and choose your moments when to attack and pour men forward.”
Roberts has made 31 appearances for Leeds this season, including 20 league starts, and has scored three times and supplied six assists.
Bielsa could select the same XI that lost 3-2 to Ipswich Town last weekend, with Mateusz Klich and Adam Forshaw used as central midfielders in front of anchorman Kalvin Phillips.