Marcelo Bielsa relishing Kemar Roofe return as Leeds United striker eyes Birmingham City clash
Marcelo Bielsa is looking forward to the return of a “very important player” with Kemar Roofe poised to resume full training with Leeds United this week.
The striker is almost at the end of his recovery from a knee ligament injury and is aiming to put himself in contention for Leeds’ visit to Birmingham City, a comeback which would give Bielsa a fully-fit squad for the first time this season.
Roofe is Leeds’ top scorer with 14 goals but has played only seven times and scored once since the start of January due to damage sustained in a 2-0 win over Swansea City on February 13.
The club have worked to nurse Roofe back in time for him to make a meaningful impact in the remainder of the Championship term and he is expected to feature in Bielsa’s 18-man squad at Birmingham next weekend if he proves his fitness in the days ahead.
Patrick Bamford has operated as a lone striker in Roofe’s absence, scoring four goals in that period, but the former Middlesbrough forward endured a frustrating afternoon in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Millwall, missing a first-half penalty and failing to get on the end of regular chances.
Bielsa has managed a string of selection issues since the start of the season - including two serious knee problems suffered by Bamford - but Adam Forshaw’s outing as a substitute against Millwall, ending an eight-game spell on the sidelines, left Roofe as the only remaining absentee.
Bielsa said: “It’s possible that Kemar will come back into training this week. It’s a possibility but it’s not definite or concrete.
“We hope that he will because he’s a very important player.”
The hand held by United’s head coach is at its strongest with seven games to the season to go and Leeds back in the Championship’s top two after a thrilling defeat of Millwall.
Bielsa’s side twice recovered from a goal down to register their 23rd league win and recover from a painful derby loss to automatic promotion rivals Sheffield United before the international break, a result which briefly dropped Leeds down to third place in the table.
The club hold a perfect record in games where they have scored the first goal but have also shown the ability to recover from losing positions and struck twice in the last 19 minutes against Millwall to avoid dropping points.
Bielsa said: “Sometimes we spend more time than we need to get what we deserve but the skill of the team is that we never feel that we’re going to lose.
“We try to change results with a style which stays the same during games.
“Things that you can’t control can happen during a football game. When a team has the skill to overcome adversity, they deserve admiration for this.”