Noel Whelan has tipped Marcelo Bielsa to name an unchanged starting XI against Crystal Palace – but only due to the lack of squad depth at Leeds United.
The former Leeds striker and lifelong fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted the Whites have simply not got the options available after seeing their ranks decimated by injury.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, as quoted by journalist Beren Cross, Bielsa confirmed attacking duo Rodrigo and Ian Poveda would miss out against the Eagles with a groin and ankle injury respectively.
It's going to be weeks rather than days for Rodrigo (groin) and Poveda (ankle), says Bielsa. Some good news though: Berardi is back in full training from Monday before starting games with the under-23s. #lufc
— Beren Cross (@BerenCross) February 5, 2021
The attackers have joined the likes of Robin Koch, Diego Llorente and Adam Forshaw in the treatment room at Elland Road.
While Bielsa was able to name a relatively strong starting XI against the Toffees, only four of the nine substitutes – Tyler Roberts, Pablo Hernandez, Kiko Casilla and Helder Costa – had 60 or more professional club games under their belts.
Whelan has admitted the lack of options is a worry for Leeds and suggested it meant Bielsa’s hand would be forced when selecting his next line up.
Asked if he expected any changes to the starting XI against Palace, Whelan told Football Insider: “No, because our squad is not big enough and we don’t have that luxury of other clubs – you look at the Everton bench, they can bring on some real game-changers.
“It is the difference between a club that is having their first season in the Premier League to a club that has been there for years and years and years and managed to build and build and build.
“Our foundation is there and our foundation is bringing in these three or four players that we have done in the window and then building on that again the summer but consolidating our position in the Premier League so that we have that money to spend, we have that luxury of enticing big players to Leeds United.
“I can’t see there being too many changes, we don’t have that luxury, I really wish we did but I think right now, when you see the performance in the second half (v Everton), of that fight and that character, maybe, just maybe, we could have got a point out of it with that little bit of luck, maybe a little bit more quality and finishing.
“I see the team that started pretty much starting again, to be honest, because that was the strongest side we could put out with the injuries with the injuries that we have.”