Raphinha’s availability against Crystal Palace would be a “huge” boost for Leeds United, according to Noel Whelan.
The former Leeds striker and boyhood fan of the Whites, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Rusell Edge, has admitted he was alarmed at the lack of depth on the bench for Monday night’s defeat against Leicester City.
Speaking at his press conference on Thursday, as relayed by BBC journalist Adam Pope, Leeds were set to make a decision on the 23-year-old winger’s availability on Friday after he missed the 4-1 loss.
TEAM NEWS: Rodrigo (Covid) misses out at Palace. He’s training alone & no one else infected says Bielsa. Phillips & Llorente injured. A decision on Raphinha (ankle) will be taken tomorrow. #lufc
— Adam Pope (@apopey) November 5, 2020
The Whites were also missing Rodrigo, Diego Llorente and Kalvin Phillips against the Foxes.
Whelan has admitted he was stunned by the difference in quality between the two squads and insisted getting Raphinha back would be a big boost for their chances on Saturday.
Whelan told Football Insider: “I looked the other day when we’re playing Leicester and I saw their bench and I was like: “Wow, what a squad they’ve assembled’.
“We’re trying to replicate that so when we do have two major new signings out, three in Llorente, it does make a difference to when you’re looking at that bench and what can come on and what can change the fortunes.
“It didn’t look as strong as what it did do, you know, losing two players is massive to us. We’ve got to try and keep as many players fit as possible, especially key players and new signings, so that was a huge blow.
“If we can get him back, minimum on the bench on Saturday, I think that’d be a big plus and a confidence boost for everybody because he’s a great little player is Raphinha.”
Raphinha has played just twice as a substitute for Leeds so far since his move from Stade Rennais during the summer transfer window.
He has the likes of Jack Harrison, Helder Costa and Ian Poveda for competition in the wide roles at Elland Road.