By Noel Whelan

8th Oct, 2021 | 6:00pm

Whelan makes surprise Raphinha claim after 'damaging' Leeds update

Noel Whelan has insisted Leeds United star Raphinha will be desperate to play against Southampton despite his extended international duty with Brazil.

The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 24-year-old could see action against the Saints if he “feels fit and well enough”.

As quoted by the Southern Daily Echo, Brazil boss Tite confirmed Raphinha and other Premier League stars will not return to England before the Selecao’s clash with Uruguay next Friday.

This means there will be less than 36 hours between the end of play in the World Cup qualifier and kick off in Leeds’ clash on the south coast.

Whelan suggested Leeds will have to monitor Raphinha closely on his return but maintained he could play against Southampton.

“We have Harrison ready and waiting in the wings, so we do have that replacement,” he told Football Insider‘s Russell Edge.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“We have a good opportunity to give Raphinha that respite that he needs – but it’s down to the player.

“If he feels fit and well enough to play against Southampton and has that conversation with the club – I’m sure they will make the right decision.

“You have to listen to the player; they know their own bodies.

“There’s no player in the world that will want to miss out on any football match.

“There will be a lot of travelling for him over this next week, and sitting on a long-haul flight can be more damaging than playing the games, in some instances.”

Raphinha carried his sparkling Leeds United form into his international debut, registering two assists in 45 minutes as Brazil came from behind to beat Venezuela 3-1.

The winger has netted three goals in seven league appearances this season.

In other news, pundit delivers “excellent signing” verdict as Leeds target £21million star.