A “six to eight” week spell on the sidelines could be “so damaging” for Leeds United defender Diego Llorente’s mental state.
That is according to former Whites forward and boyhood fan Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider as the dust settles on the Spaniard’s latest injury setback.
The centre-back was forced to withdraw less than 10 minutes into his return to the side against Newcastle United on Tuesday, a muscle problem flaring up once again.
The £18million summer signing is still yet to complete 90 minutes for his new club.
And Whelan believes Leeds should be wary of the psychological damage the 27-year-old’s repeat injuries could inflict, particularly given that he is new to the club and the city.
Asked how mentally tough the next few weeks would be for Llorente, Whelan told Football Insider: “It’ll be crucifying. I’ve been injured plenty of times and there’s nothing worse than sitting on the bench or sitting in the stands watching the game. It’s like a punishment to you.
“The thing is, it’s double for him because he’s not even at home really, he’s only been in England a short space of time so to join a new club, not be playing regularly, getting these little injuries, being put back six to eight weeks every single time you get one of these is going to be so damaging for his mental state.
“We all hate being injured or not being involved in the game but right now he probably feels a lot worse because it’s a new club, it’s a new city to him, a new country. So I think trying to keep on top of his mental wellbeing is just as important in getting him fit as well.”
Llorente was one of a string of summer signings made by newly-promoted Leeds, with Rodrigo, Raphinha, Helder Costa, Robin Koch, Illan Meslier and Joe Gelhardt also arriving for a combined total of £96m.
A six-time Spain international, Llorente was part of Luis Enrique’s most recent national team squad for the Nations League fixtures in October.