Danny Mills has tipped Robin Koch to start ahead of Diego Llorente for Leeds United against Sheffield United on Saturday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Whites and England defender claimed Koch, 24, had the edge over Llorente, 27, because he did not go away on international duty.
Koch returned from a knee injury he suffered at the beginning of December when he was introduced as a late substitute against Fulham prior to the international break.
The seven-time Germany international was not included in Joachim Low’s squad while Llorente, an £18million summer signing, featured in Spain’s win over Georgia in World Cup qualifying on Sunday.
Marcelo Bielsa will also have club captain Liam Cooper available after he recovered from an illness.
“It will be interesting to see if he goes for a two or a three at the back,” Mills told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.
“You also have to assess people coming back from the international break and see if they’re sharp or fit. Has anyone had extra travelling? Mentally, are they sharp?
“Thursday and Friday will have been really key in understanding where these players are at, how they’re feeling, what sort of shape they’re in. It’s really important.
“They’ve almost been away for two weeks, you’ve got to bring them back and see what that first training session is like.
“Koch might have been training really hard, really sharp. If you’ve managed to do that then the manager will think ‘Right, I know what this player has been doing for two weeks. I don’t quite know what the others have been doing on international duty. Yes, I can see their performances and their training schedules but I’ve not seen them with my own eyes.’
“That could give Robin Koch the edge, if he’s been doing well in training.”