Leeds United duo to remain sidelined as creative spark goes missing at Hillsborough

Over the years Marcelo Bielsa has come to expect a goal from every three efforts his teams produce, particular with good form behind them. Leeds United's return over the past two matches fell a long way short of that ratio: 42 attempts in return for a total of two.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 29th September 2018, 10:53 am
Updated Saturday, 29th September 2018, 11:02 am
Leeds United's Tyler Roberts reacts during Sheffield Wednesday draw.
Leeds United's Tyler Roberts reacts during Sheffield Wednesday draw.

It tells Bielsa two things: that there is no problem with the creativity of his team but their composure is lacking when the better openings fall to them. As he said after Leeds’ 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, where 24 chances went begging, the effort involved in scoring goals is disportionate to the number United are actually registering.

The club’s head coach has players in the wings who could help with that issue, or players in the treatment room who are creeping towards a comeback, but neither Kemar Roofe nor Pablo Hernandez are expected to be fit for Tuesday’s visit to Hull City.

Roofe, who has missed the past four matches with a calf strain, was described by Bielsa as being “close” to a return earlier this week but the four-goal forward is unlikely to bring his finishing to the party at the KCOM Stadium.

Hernandez, too, will be absent for a little longer. The Spaniard sustained a hamstring strain in last month’s 3-0 win at Norwich City and aggravated it during the recent international break. United’s visit to Blackburn Rovers on October 20 is a more realistic target for a playmaker rated so highly by Bielsa that the Argentinian claimed Hernandez “could make me a better coach”.

“I’m sure that no-one will be available for the Hull game,” Bielsa said when asked if Roofe, Hernandez or Gaetano Berardi might return to strengthen his hand.

Roofe’s sharp finishes, including two at Derby County and others against Rotherham United and Swansea City, were a highlight of the early weeks of the Championship season and four goals in August earned him the EFL’s player-of-the-month award.

The forward has not been available since Leeds’ 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on August 31 having been injured in training ahead of a visit to Millwall two weeks later. Leeds have taken five points from a possible 12 in his absence.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay was grateful for missed chances last night, conceding his side had been fortunate to emerge with a point in the face of so many efforts on goal.

A 54th-minute strike from United’s Mateusz Klich cancelled out an outlandish Adam Reach volley seconds before half-time, ensuring a share of the points at the final whistle.

“Leeds deserve to make the draw but they had the best chances to score the second,” Luhukay said. “We had to defend in an unbelievable way. A draw was the maximum result (Wednesday deserved).

“We saw why Leeds are top. They put us under pressure in the second half and we had to defend as a team. We didn't play our own football.”