'I seriously had doubts' - Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa's Adam Forshaw admission after Leicester City return

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa admits he was one of those who 'seriously' doubted Adam Forshaw could return after more than two years with no league starts.

Sunday, 7th November 2021, 7:18 pm

Bielsa played the central midfielder from kick-off in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City, 799 days after his last league start, and kept him on the pitch for 90 minutes.

Despite having not managed more than 65 minutes in any game prior to the visit of the Foxes, Forshaw was influential throughout and maintained his intensity until he was replaced by Tyler Roberts.

Bielsa was buoyed by what he saw from Forshaw a week ago at Norwich City in a 13-minute cameo and the 30-year-old then convinced his head coach he was ready with what he did in the lead up to the Leicester clash.

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"Firstly physically all his qualities, his numbers are up there with what you need to compete in the Premier League," said Bielsa.

"After, against Arsenal he was missing some aggression and opportunity to get on the ball. Against Norwich he had both of those things although he played very little time. He made good runs and he was impressive in the recovery of the ball. Throughout the week in preparation for the game we saw that he was ready to start. I insist that we have to value the personal achievement of Forshaw and I do it especially as I really didn’t think he was going to be able to do this."

Bielsa's doubts were only natural. Forshaw's 2019/20 season was ended at the end of September by a hip injury that eventually required surgical intervention. He missed the entire 2020/21 campaign and although he returned in pre-season, muscular niggles continued to be a problem.

Forshaw's dedication to returning to play regular football is an example to be followed and a riposte to his doubters, according to Bielsa.

COMEBACK KING - Adam Forshaw returned to the starting XI in a league game for the first time in 771 days for Leeds United. Pic: Tony Johnson

"It's a prize for his perseverance," said the Argentine.

"He spent two years without playing. He never gave up. Also to give value to all those that collaborated with his recovery. It is very difficult to come back and play at this level having not done so. And more than any other consideration, Forshaw got this by himself. To have overcome all of this that he had to overcome is to make him feel very recomforted with himself. And it’s a message because I seriously had doubts that he could achieve what he just achieved, it’s a message for those who doubted, and a message for those who can imitate a similar feat. I suppose for all of his family and those that love him will feel admiration for this achievement. It seems like my position is exaggerated, but if everyone knew the amount of situations he had to overcome throughout these years, they would understand that what I am recognising is deserved."

Leeds played some of their best football of the season in the draw with Leicester, going ahead through Raphinha and causing the Foxes problems in both halves, but had to settle for a point having conceded an immediate Harvey Barnes equaliser in the wake of the opener.