Noel Whelan has urged Marcelo Bielsa to hand Ian Poveda his first Premier League start if Raphinha is ruled out for Leeds United against Manchester United.
The ex-Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 21-year-old outshone Helder Costa in his 20-minute cameo against Liverpool last weekend.
As confirmed by Marcelo Bielsa on Friday, Raphinha is a major doubt for Sunday’s game against Manchester United.
🎙️ Marcelo: "Raphinha, we're controlling his evolution on a daily basis, up until now he's not recovered sufficiently to be able to train." pic.twitter.com/09QM6LPJTX
— Leeds United (@LUFC) April 23, 2021
He has not trained fully since picking up a knock against Manchester City.
Costa started in Raphinha’s place in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
However, Poveda replaced the Portugal international after a poor 70 minutes.
Whelan admitted the young winger showed more intent and quality than Costa against the Reds.
As such, he suggested Bielsa should start Poveda on Sunday if Raphinha is missing.
Asked if Poveda should start if Raphinha is out, Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “Yeah. I would say so.
“For me, Costa has not really produced anything that we expect from him, especially against Liverpool. I thought Poveda did more in that 20 minutes than Costa did in his 70.
“He’s more positive, he’s more dynamic, he likes to hurt teams by running at them. You can see the way he set up the goal as well. A fantastic run, very direct, very positive and that’s what you want from a winger.
“I do believe Costa just plays it far too safe and maybe he’s lacking a bit of confidence or doesn’t trust in his own ability right now. Poveda, for me, showed that little bit more energy, a little bit more, positivity going forward and trying to take on defenders.
“I don’t mind if he loses the ball, that’s not a problem in the right areas. He’s trying to do the right thing, that’s his job, taking defenders on and trying to create.
“I just feel Costa is not really offering anything. I think Poveda took that 20 minutes the other night and took his opportunity.”