By Noel Whelan

11th Dec, 2021 | 11:30am

Koch 'ready' for Leeds recall v Chelsea today after Bielsa update - Whelan

Noel Whelan has tipped Marcelo Bielsa to recall Robin Koch to the bench for Leeds United against Chelsea.

The former Leeds striker and club ambassador, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Whites’ injury problems may force the manager’s hand over the 25-year-old’s return.

As quoted by Leeds Live on Thursday (9 December), Bielsa insisted Koch needs game time, ideally with the under-23s, to get back up to speed after returning from a hip injury.

However, the Argentine boss admitted there are some situations which “impede the ideal”.

With the likes of Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips suffering hamstring problems, Whelan suggested this could be one of those situations.

Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “I think when you’re looking at the amount of injuries that we have, we’re going to need experience now.

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“We’re trying to bring people back maybe quicker than expected. Ideally, yes, you’d like to put him in a game for the under-23s. Get that match fitness and sharpness that you need to get back into the first team.

“But right now, when you look at the bare essentials that we have in the squad, I feel that the club doesn’t really have too much of an opportunity or chance to not put him in the team.

“He’s an international player. I’m sure Robin Koch himself would not be bothered in the slightest. He’ll feel like he’s ready.

“But I think for a manager, you would like to get a couple of games under his belt. Get the sharpness and match fitness you need in case you’re called upon.

“Look, it’s a positive. He may be involved in the game, he’s back on the bench. I guess that softens the blow a little bit with the three injuries that we have. We’ve got another one back.”

Koch has made just one appearance for Leeds this season, which came on 14 August.

Signed from Freiburg in the summer of 2019 for an initial £11.5million, he has played just seven times in 2021 due to his injury problems.

In other news, Football Insider’s injury expert has delivered the lowdown on Phillips’ “extensive muscle damage” at Leeds United.