Marcelo Bielsa has Patrick Bamford doubts for Aston Villa, Leeds United only chasing midfielder

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa has doubts that Patrick Bamford will return to face Aston Villa.

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 24th January 2022, 5:16 pm

Thanks to the international break, Leeds United are without a fixture now until their February 9 visit to Villa Park, which will give their injured players like Bamford more time to recover.

The striker is one of a handful of key players who missed the defeat by Newcastle United at the weekend, along with Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Junior Firpo.

Although Leeds created chances that looked ideal for a natural number nine like Bamford, Bielsa felt his side should have been able to win without him.

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"When you have chances and you don't score them, it is natural that you refer to a goalscorer," he said.

"The offensive game of the team was sufficient to unlevel the game in some way."

Bamford has not started a game since September, thanks to a complicated ankle problem and subsequent niggles and knocks.

The issue currently keeping him out is with the sole of his foot but regardless of whether that has cleared up by the time Leeds go to Villa, concerns over his suitability for Premier League football will remain because he's played just 22 minutes in the last four months. It will be nearly five months without a start when Leeds tackle Steven Gerrard's side.

STILL OUT - Patrick Bamford has not started for Leeds United since September and Marcelo Bielsa has doubts the striker will return at Aston Villa. Pic: Getty

"I have my doubts, I’m not sure [if I will be able to count on Bamford at Villa] - it's not just about being able to count on him, it's about arriving in conditions to be able to develop his game," said Bielsa.

"A player who has gone so long without playing, it opens up a question mark - after he’s healthy. how long does he need to be able to obtain regularity?"

Bielsa did welcome both Joe Gelhardt and Tyler Roberts back from the treatment room at the weekend to bolster his attacking options, although neither started as Daniel James occupied the lone striker role.

Their return, along with that of Rodrigo who on Saturday played his first 90 minutes since September, mean Bielsa will not be asking for a new striker in the remainder of the January transfer window.

At present Leeds' only possible business would be a deal for RB Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson, but the Austrian Bundesliga leaders have not yet accepted the Whites' second bid of £20m and are believed to be resistant to the idea of a sale.

If Victor Orta is unable to convince Salzburg to part with their key man, Leeds are expected to resume the chase in the summer.