Marcelo Bielsa has been backed to axe Helder Costa by the Express, who suggest the Argentine should hand Ian Poveda his Leeds United debut when we travel to Brentford on Tuesday night.
Costa has been an integral part of Bielsa’s plans since arriving at Elland Road on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, with the boss last leaving the one-time Portugal international out of a starting line-up in the Championship on November 26.
The 26-year-old winger came off the bench against Reading that November night and recorded his second assist of the league campaign, after his deflected 87th-minute delivery found Jack Harrison at the back post to head home the winner.
Since then, Costa has failed to create another goal in the second-tier but has found the back of the net three times, though the last of which came in the 5-4 win at Birmingham City before the turn of the year.
Costa’s recent outings have been far below the standard expected of someone who will set the club back £15million in the summer, regardless of promotion, with the SL Benfica product playing just ten total passes against Sheffield Wednesday, completing 75.9% of his passes against QPR, missing the target with two of his three shots against Wigan and taking four unsuccessful touches against Nottingham Forest last time out, per WhoScored data.
Bielsa has now been backed to axe Costa from his starting line-up for the first time in 13 Championship fixtures, and award Poveda his Leeds debut following the youngster’s January arrival on a free transfer from Manchester City.
Should Bielsa axe Costa vs Brentford?
Yes, and start Poveda
No, he has to play
The boss listed Poveda among the substitutes against Millwall and Wigan following his winter move to Elland Road, but did not hand the 20-year-old any minutes on the field before omitting him from the matchday squad at Forest.
A need for better results with Fulham now level on points with United in third has sparked suggestions that Bielsa ought to change his favoured line-up at Brentford on Tuesday night, with the Griffin Park encounter now ‘vital’ to our promotion hopes.
Poveda was rarely-seen in the Manchester City first-team during his years at the Etihad Stadium, with the young talent only making one senior outing and featuring once among the substitutes during a career spent predominantly in the youth ranks.
The England U20 international made 37 appearances for the Citizens’ Under 23s, while featuring 32 times for the U18s and 15 times for the U19s in the UEFA Youth League, scoring six, nine and four times along with eight, five and one assists respectively.
Handing Poveda his Whites debut in the starting line-up at Brentford will be a big test for the youngster as, beyond our promotion hopes, we are without a win at Griffin Park since 1950.