Marcelo Bielsa breaks Leeds United team news ahead of must-win Watford encounter

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Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side have struggled with injury lay-offs ever since the club’s return to the top flight of English football last year.

The Argentine has seen the likes of Diego Llorente and Robin Koch sidelined for months at a time – something which is becoming more and more of a reality, particularly with those two central defenders.

This weekend, Leeds face something of a crunch match with Watford at the foot of the Premier League table, as the Whites look to arrest their recent slump in results.

No wins from six Premier League matches places Leeds just inside the relegation places, a position the club will hope to clamber out of with victory on Saturday.

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Bielsa will be without just one of the aforementioned defensive duo however, with Llorente now having recovered from his problem.

Koch was initially ruled out with a pelvic injury after the first game of the season, while Diego Llorente pulled up in Leeds’ 3-0 defeat to Liverpool earlier this month.

Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling joined the pair on the treatment table two weeks ago, taking knocks against Newcastle in a thrilling 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.

The English duo will be absent from Bielsa’s squad this weekend, having failed to shake off ankle and knee problems, respectively.

“Raphinha is available, Bamford isn’t,” Bielsa told the media in his pre-match press conference.

“Another player who was injured who is available is Llorente.”

Llorente’s availability will be a boost to Leeds’ defensive options, while there is more good news at the back, in the shape of Pascal Struijk’s return from suspension.

He has now served a three-match ban for a red card picked up following a strong tackle on Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott.

Question marks over Raphinha’s fitness have also hung over the Whites’ preparations, but it is hoped the Brazilian will be available from the start on Saturday.

This is despite the 24-year-old being substituted shortly after the hour mark in each of his last two Leeds appearances.

Bielsa revealed the winger had asked to be brought off against West Ham, as he was struggling. He was then seen, sprawled on the turf just in front of the dugout with ice on what appeared to be his thigh.

Bielsa shed more light on the issues plaguing his squad currently: “Bamford has an ankle injury that surely will take him a few more weeks to resolve. It hasn’t been a simple injury, and it will likely take him from the period he was injured to when he returns about a month.

“Ayling has a problem in his knee, that is going to require a simple surgical intervention, that will also require some time after this procedure is done.” he added.

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