Noel Whelan claims that Marcelo Bielsa has “no option” but to hand Robin Koch his Leeds United debut against Liverpool on Saturday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds striker admits that the Argentine boss is lacking in alternatives at centre-back and as such must throw the 24-year-old in the deep end at Anfield.
A Leeds source has told Football Insider that Koch started alongside Liam Cooper as a first-team XI took on a team made up primarily of under-23 players in an intra-squad friendly at Thorp Arch.
Bielsa confirmed at his pre-match press conference that the German defender, as well as fellow new signing Rodrigo Moreno, is in contention to play at Anfield for the Whites’ season opener.
Whelan believes there is no doubt that Koch will start alongside Liam Cooper on Saturday and that a tough test against Liverpool could be the ideal start for the pair to build up a relationship at the back.
Whelan told Football Insider: “We’ve got no options, that is it, Koch will be playing alongside Liam Cooper who had a good runout for Scotland in midweek.
“You’ve got no better time to start a new partnership off than the first game of the season, we’re not in the luxury boat where we’ve got three or four defenders who can come in, we’ve got to put that international straight in alongside Liam Cooper.
“Get that relationship built straight away and I’m looking forward to watching him play, I’ve heard good things and it should be a great test against the front three of Liverpool.”
Loan star Ben White was an ever-present for Leeds in the Championship last season but he has returned to Brighton after his temporary stint.
Gaetano Berardi also filled in at the heart of the defence last term but is currently sidelined with a serious injury blow.
In other Leeds United news, Bielsa has been told to hand another player his debut on Saturday after a starting XI hint from the training ground.