By Noel Whelan

23rd Feb, 2021 | 10:00am

Whelan 'not surprised' Llorente may be in Leeds three-man defence tonight after key update

Noel Whelan has tipped Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa to switch to a three-man defence against Southampton to combat their two strikers.

The former Whites and Coventry striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, expects Diego Llorente to be in contention to start at Elland Road and claims the 27-year-old “has a point to prove”.

Southampton are one of the few teams in the Premier League who play two up top, with two from Danny Ings, Che Adams, Nathan Redmond and Takumi Minamino likely to lead the line on Tuesday night.

If history repeats itself, Bielsa may revert to a back-three to negate that threat, with Luke Ayling or Diego Llorente likely to join Liam Cooper and Pascal Struijk at the back.

Whelan is “desperate” for Llorente, who returned this month from a hamstring injury, to show his worth.

“Marcelo Bielsa could very well switch to a back three tonight,” he told Football Insider.

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“Every time we play against a team with a two, he reverts to a three at the back with one other player pushing out into that midfield area when we have the ball.

“Southampton are a very, very good side. They have a lot of quality players. They have shown this season that they can go toe-to-toe with the very best.

“It would not surprise me if Bielsa went for a back three.

“Llorente will have had that extra week of fitness and training that we know Bielsa likes. We will have to watch this space.

“Everyone is desperate to watch Llorente. Do we have a good centre-half there that will be the difference? We just do now know. We have seen clips and we know he is a Spanish international but we have barely seen anything from him.

“He has a point to prove and if he does play then he needs to perform.” 

In other news, Kevin Phillips is excited by astonishing Leeds United news.