Date: 21st August 2019 at 7:41am
Written by: Zak Roome

Leeds could be without a further three first-team players for Brentford’s trip to Elland Road on Wednesday night, Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed.

United endured a horrific run of injuries during the boss’ inaugural season in West Yorkshire, but the Argentine has only been without two long-term absentees so far this season in Luke Ayling and Tyler Roberts.

But captain Liam Cooper and fellow defensive options Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas are now doubts for Pontus Jansson’s return to Elland Road, although Bielsa refused to categorically rule the trio out of action during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“We are not sure that Cooper, Alioski and Douglas can play the game, but nor can we say that they cannot,” the boss affirmed, via quotes by Leeds Live.

The Athletic’s Phil Hay added that Bielsa is confident the trio are fit to play against the Bees, but would prefer them to be operating at 100 per cent if they are to taste another slice of Championship action.

Alioski’s absence would have been the least-felt had Douglas not also developed an apparent injury since featuring in our 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the weekend, as Douglas is yet to miss a minute of league action this term.

Bielsa seems to be preparing for how he will cope with the trio’s absences, as well, with Whites product Jamie Shackleton understood to be in line for his first start of the campaign at right-back.

An appearance by the 19-year-old would see Stuart Dallas switch sides and line up on the left-hand of our defence, leaving question marks over who is fielded in the centre if Cooper likewise loses his 100 per cent record on Wednesday night.

Gaetano Berardi would be the obvious choice with the 30-year-old boasting a wealth of experience unrivalled by Conor Shaughnessy or Under 23s ace Pascal Struijk. Kalvin Phillips could also slot into the backline, but the Leeds-born anchor’s absence from the midfield would disrupt the entire flow of how we play.

Here’s how these Leeds fans reacted when The Athletic’s Phil Hay shared Bielsa’s update on the fitness of the first-team…

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