Noel Whelan has admitted he is “desperate” to see Raphinha return for Leeds United against Manchester United this weekend.
The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 24-year-old was “massively important” to the Whites’ hopes of beating the Red Devils.
As confirmed by Marcelo Bielsa on Friday, the Brazilian winger still has not trained after picking up a knock against Manchester City.
🎙️ 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
However, unlike Rodrigo, the Argentine boss refused to rule Raphinha out for Sunday’s game.
Helder Costa got the nod to start against Liverpool in the winger’s absence last weekend.
Jack Harrison started on the other flank while Ian Poveda featured as a substitute in the 1-1 draw.
Whelan admitted Leeds were set to come up against two of the best full-backs in the division in Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan Bissaka.
As such, he insisted having Raphinha back would be a major boost.
“They’ve got fantastic full-backs in Shaw and Wan Bissaka,” Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.
“We know Shaw’s had a turn in fortunes the way he is playing. Meanwhile, Wan Bissaka is one of the best defenders in the Premier League.
“It’d be a great challenge for all the wingers against two fantastic full-backs.
“For Raphinha and for Leeds United, I think it’s massively important. We saw the other night how much we missed him.
“We desperately need Raphinha to be fit if we’re going to penetrate and hurt them at the back, that’s for sure.”
Monday’s draw against Liverpool was only the second league game Raphinha has missed this season.
He has a total of six goals and six assists under his belt for the Whites to date.