By Noel Whelan

2nd Oct, 2021 | 9:00am

Whelan thrilled by 'massive Leeds news' after Raphinha reveal pre-Watford

Noel Whelan has admitted Raphinha’s availability is “massive” for Leeds United against Watford.

The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed “good things” happen when the 24-year-old is on the ball.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, manager Marcelo Bielsa confirmed Raphinha was available to take on the Hornets.

The mercurial winger had been struggling with a knock sustained in the draw against Newcastle last month.

Raphinha was forced off both in that match and the following week’s defeat against West Ham – despite managing to net in both games.

Those two strikes bring his season tally to three, meaning he has contributed 50% of Leeds’ league strikes this term.

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Whelan reinforced the winger’s importance to the Elland Road club – especially after Patrick Bamford’s untimely injury.

“It’s massive news,” he told Football Insider‘s Russell Edge.

“He was the one who really stretched the game against West Ham.

He closed down, pressing high from the front and everyone followed his willingness to run.

“He’s a player who can win you football matches, and when he’s on the ball you know good things are going to happen.

“He took his goal [against West Ham] really calmly, cultured finish, and that’s becoming a trademark for him.”

The Elland Road club will be again sweating over Raphinha’s fitness when he travels to join up with the Brazil squad next week.

He was called up by manager Tite for World Cup qualifying action from next week.

Leeds have struggled this season, scoring just six and conceding the second-most Premier League goals (14).

Manager Bielsa has been without Bamford, Pascal Struijk, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch, Luke Ayling and Adam Forshaw in recent games.

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