Fulham v Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa press conference on Patrick Bamford latest, Rodrigo setback and Luke Ayling England talk

ALL the latest as Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa faces the media ahead of Friday evening's Premier League clash against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

By Lee Sobot
Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:04 pm

Leeds will be looking to build on Saturday's goalless draw at home to Chelsea whereas Fulham are seeking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss at home to Manchester City.

Bielsa will be speaking to the media at 12.30pm and all the latest news will follow after the press conference's conclusion.

Bamford's fitness - will he be available for club - or country?

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FRIDAY NIGHT BATTLE: Between Fulham boss Scott Parker, left, and Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, right. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.

"We think that yes he will play on Friday. He has a knock on his hip that is painful but we don't think that is going to make him miss the game. Cooper is sick, Davis has a small articulation problem which is nothing serious and Rodrigo had a contractor (muscle injury) yesterday in training which I don't know if he is going to be available for the game on Friday. Either way, it is not an important injury."

On Struijk - recovered quicker than you thought


On Ayling amidst England talk

"He is one of the players that has shone the most in our team, he is a player who can play out wide or in the centre, in a back four or back three, with a capacity to attack and a good aerial game and with good managing of the ball in terms of combination and first pass. With this analysis anyone who watches him regular can make and I am only describing the resources that he has. When you talk about a player that potentially be picked for the national team you can interpret the reference as trying to induce the manager and in no way do I want to be in that situation. But the question leads you to saying things you don't want to."

Huggins for Wales under-21s - what position do you see him playing?

"He can play as a full back on the back four on the left hand side and the right hand side, or as a midfielder accompanying a more defensive midfielder. He can play with ease on both sides, left or right, originally he was a winger/offensive midfielder and this gives him more resources during the possession and he can play in all three heights on the pitch. And apart from that he is a player with a physical performance above the norm."

On Fulham - what has led to their improvement

"The idea of the manager is reflected in Fulham's play. In the first round it was difficult for them to impose their style and in the second round of fixtures they started to do this a lot better. I remember the style when we faced them in the Championship and it's the same style but they have managed to impose it in a lot of games in the Premier League and apart from that they are a team that plays on an even keel in the majority of the games. In the games against the teams in the top six they played to impose themselves and not to avoid being beaten, they play to impose themselves."

Gritty Leeds against Chelsea

"The intentions of the team, the style that they want to use is not only a desire but you have to put it to the test against the opposition that you face. Chelsea is a team who attacks well without defending badly and the defend well without attacking badly. They have 8 forwards, the attackers and the forwards are the ones who play the worst as it is difficult to attack and the rest of the team is very stabilised. We were not superior to Chelsea but we had an improvement with regards to their first game against them in all the parameters. Normally we have more possession that the opponents, in this case we weren't able to and normally we are able to create an equal amount of opportunities if not more, we weren't able to do this in this case also and even though we had to defend a lot we did it well and even though we had the ball for less time and chances we managed to attack well, we had five or six opportunities to score a goal and even though it was difficult for us to defend we managed to ensure that the opponent did not score a goal and I repeat the initial concept, the evaluation of a team a lot of time is not from what they achieve but you gave to value what they achieve in conjunction with the opposition that they have. We managed to achieve less than what we usually do but for me it was against one of the two best teams at the moment."

On Bamford

"Bamford contributes goals, he makes runs and marks, runs in behind, he has presence in the box, he has combativeness to overcome the ball and he has continuity in his participation throughout the game."

On Meslier's latest France under-21s call

"Since he has been with us he has always been in the France under 21s squad and before that also and it's also a recognition that you have to value."

Key to facing Fulham

"I don't think in any game there is a certain key for any game. I also consider the same factors, to defend better, to attack better, trying to have the ball. Avoid that the opponent builds up passes, overcome them with energy and enthusiasm in an organisation and management of the game. These are some of the aspects that I remember at this time and there would be no game to which I wouldn't apply these. Sincerely I can't think of anything precisely about Fulham."

Dallas a midfielder in Prem compared to Championship

"I think he applied the same characteristics to this position in the midfield. Obviously the Premier League has different difficulties to the Championship. In the Championship you can defend a little less and you can think about the runs you can make a little more. In the Premier League you have to defend and attack, defending is more difficult and when you attack when you come up against more solid and physical opposition than the Championship."

On players from League One and Two - like Ayling and Cooper were recruited from after release from big clubs

"I always thought that this was a good idea. The British players have something that players from other countries don't have, of course there are good and bad players here and everywhere else. But some of the characteristics from these British players makes them particularly apt from this league and what you tell me about Ayling and Cooper - that the competition always makes the footballer better. When a player doesn't manage to break into the team and the club they are in because they are facing competition from players who circumstantially they can't overcome, to manage a different level of competition even if it is lower allows them to start bettering themselves in these different levels of competition and this allows them to start to grow it allows them to eventually improve and it is also natural that teams have this."

On Rodrigo

"To explain it exactly, Rodrigo arrived at the start of the competition, he didn't manage to do the pre season with us. it took him 4 weeks to become a starter and after playing his best game which was the game against Aston Villa then he became sick, he was ill for 20 days, then after that to get back to his best state it took him a month , he played 10 to 12 games at a level from medium to high then he picked up that injury which he was out for for around 5 weeks and perhaps the spell where he didn't play for 40 days perhaps it was too quick because he is a player who gets his best physical state by gradually increasing the minutes, he played 45 minutes for the under 23s, 45 minutes against West Ham and against Chelsea - one of the teams with the best rhythm alongside Man City and maybe other teams, I had to bring him back earlier because my estimate was that he shouldn't play more than 50 minutes, he becomes a starter when he is a good state of form, when he has been without playing for over a month his return to the team is not instantaneous. But me in particular and Leeds is his club will have seen what Rodrigo is capable of. He is a growing striker that when he finds his best form he is a very dangerous form and very useful."

On Koch's return for 23s in midfield

"It is not that he adapted to this position he also plays in this position for his national team in Germany, the under 23s is not the level of the Premier League, there are steps that a player has to take when they have not competed before. But he is an athlete who takes less time to reach his optimum levels. Either way we have to be careful so that his evolution is natural."

On Llorente's Spain call

"I think that to be called up to the national team of the level of Spain is always a recognition of what the player had produced. That Luis Enrique evaluated that he was already ready to return to the national team is a big recognition for him."

Do you take pride in Ayling and Bamford being mentioned for England?

"It's a recognition first of all for the players. And secondly it is recognition of the project of the club, the structure of the squad to compete in the Premier League, it's a project that has been developed by the president, the sporting director and the technical staff. The president of the club because he is the visible head of the club because he is the one that picks the sporting director and the technical staff. After, the sporting director chooses and the players compete. And to compete in the Premier League is what opens up possibilities to people and they do it within a team that the authorities permit that this group was to be formed that the sporting director profiles and then they compete. So it is an achievement that makes the player proud and it shows that the proposition that the club made or that they hoped for was the right one."

On Scott Parker

"I think he is a manager who has earned the recognition of all of those in the Premier League He has home through difficult moments in the Championship and the Premier League and in all or them he has managed to overcome them by imposing his style and the system that he uses is a very creative one."

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Thank you Laura Collins