Diego Llorente was close to making his Premier League debut for Leeds United before he suffered his groin injury, according to Michael Brown.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Spurs and Sheffield United midfielder believes because the Spaniard was on the bench against Manchester City Marcelo Bielsa felt he was ready to play for Leeds.
The Whites confirmed last week that Llorente had returned from international duty early with a groin injury and faces up to three weeks on the sidelines.
Llorente moved to Yorkshire last month from Spanish side Real Sociedad for a reported £18million fee.
He is yet to feature for his new club with Robin Koch and Liam Cooper appearing to be Bielsa’s first-choice centre-back pairing.
Captain Cooper is also out with a groin injury meaning Pascal Struijk started in their 1-0 defeat to Wolves on Monday night.
Asked by Football Insider whether he thought Llorente was close to breaking into the team, Brown said: “He wasn’t on the bench against Sheffield United but he was on the bench against Manchester City.
“That tells you that Bielsa has a lot of faith in him. He doesn’t put them near the squad if the levels are there.
“He obviously believed he was up to speed.
“That will be a setback and that’s a thing maybe where the loading may be different and he was trying to get there a little bit quicker.”
Llorente played 88 times for Real Sociedad in his three full seasons at the La Liga side.
Across spells at Sociedad, Malaga and Real Madrid, the 27-year-old played 138 times in the Spanish top flight.
He also has six caps for his country, the most recent of which came against Portugal earlier this month.
In other Leeds United news, an ex-striker has been blown away by what Raphinha can do for the Whites.