Leeds United v Burnley - Marcelo Bielsa press conference LIVE, injuries and coronavirus latest as Whites return to action

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa is facing the media on New Year's Eve morning ahead of Leeds United's return to Premier League action on Sunday against Burnley at Elland Road.

By Flora Snelson
Friday, 31st December 2021, 7:30 am
FOURTH MEETING: Between Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, left, and Burnley boss Sean Dyche, right. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.
FOURTH MEETING: Between Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, left, and Burnley boss Sean Dyche, right. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.

Leeds have not played since the 4-1 defeat at home to Arsenal on Saturday, December 18, after which the Whites saw their festive fixtures against Liverpool and Aston Villa postponed.

A small outbreak of coronavirus within the Whites squad led to both Boxing Day's clash at Liverpool and the Tuesday night hosting of Aston Villa being postponed.

The coronavirus cases together with injuries meant United did not have enough recognised first-team players to meet the Premier League requirements.

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But the Whites players that tested positive for Covid will be in line to return against the Clarets in Sunday's 2pm kick-off at Elland Road.

Bielsa will be speaking to the media at 9am this morning and you can follow everything that is said by the Whites boss at our live blog below.

Leeds United v Burnley - Marcelo Bielsa press conference LIVE

Last updated: Friday, 31 December, 2021, 09:27

  • Marcelo Bielsa facing the media at 9am
  • Clarets face the Whites at Elland Road on Sunday in 2pm kick-off

Is the predicted return of March for Cooper and Phillips a prediction or a worse case scenario?

No, that’s what we expect.

If the postponements had happened due to weather, rather than COVID, it might seem positive for Leeds. Can this unexpected winter break be taken as a positive for Leeds?

The illness of a group of players can never be considered positive, even after alternative consequences that can be valued - what provokes it is sufficiently serious to not value it.

We’ve seen some managers take an unfavourable stance on AFCON. What is your opinion on international tournaments, such as the Copa America, taking place mid-season?

It’s very very clear, that the competitions of the national teams deserve to be treated with respect. And the interest of the clubs who own the sporting rights of the players are those who play for their owners, they also deserve to be respected. Of course, there’s ways of resolving this problem - they should be analysed. For the club, for the nations of players involved, is it good that they are done while other competitions are being played? The national team have received players who are needed by their clubs. They don’t have the time to prepare for one of the two competitions that they dispute, and the clubs perhaps lose players in a decisive moment of the season. The complaints, coming from the players, coming from the clubs, coming from the national teams - they are all just.

In the summer, you said that you didn’t want to hinder the development of young players. What’s the possibility of young players going out on loan next month, given the injury situation?

It’s a subject where it’s a possibility. Players that are immediately below the first team, they only have one reason to stay at the club, that they have real possibilities to dispute a space in the team, and that they have the desire to fight for that space and show that they deserve it. With those parameters, we’ll make the decision that’s best for the players and best for the club.

Given Phillips’ injury - how impressed have you been with Adam Forshaw since he came back to the team, and how important is he in your plans for the future?

The extension of Forshaw’s contract is something between Forshaw and the institution. Clearly, his return to the team has been satisfactory. When he’s played as a defensive mid, or as a box-to-box midfielder, he’s offered solutions. The absence of Phillips he has helped to resolve with Pascal and Koch. He’s offered options that were very necessary in the number 8 position with Klich and Dallas. His level of performance is the same to that prior to the injury. Prior to him stopping playing, he was at a very good level. Two years after he has been able to play at a very high level at a higher level of competition - that is not common. The club has supported him, and he made big efforts to be able to get back to this level and I am sure that he is enjoying it.

What impact are the injuries having on the January transfer window?

We’ve been recovering players, even if Phillips and Cooper will return in March, even if Shackleton and Cresswell will return at the end of January or the start of February, the amount of players that we have is increasing, and we will see whether, during January, an alternative comes up that we may take advantage of.

What lessons will you take from the 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor in August?

Burnley is a team that is very stable, few incorporations are new, I’m referring to the fact that the basis of their team is always the same, and their way of playing is very installed in the team and very incorporated. As a result, we don’t imagine a different type of game from the one we played recently, as last season as in this season. The characteristics are the same and the difficulties are the same.

The Elland Road crowd stay with the team even when things aren’t going Leeds’ way, do you sense that on the sidelines?

Yes, I think that the support that the Leeds fans have for the team is unconditional, and it’s not common in these times - to conserve that recognition from the fans, even when the team is losing.

The Arsenal defeat was the first home loss in six games. How big a part do the Elland Road crowd play, and how significant could they be on Sunday?

Every time that we’ve played at home, the public has always been an element which pushes the team on to be in a better state of mood.

How do you feel you have improved this year?

The evaluation of my task in these last few months is negative. The situations I have had to go through, I haven’t been able to resolve them as I thought I would. The majority of things that have happened, I thought could happen. I imagined resources would resolve them, but evidently those resources weren’t the adequate ones, even if there was a high percentage of injuries, and those are things that you can’t pre-empt, even less in the proportion that it was. The rest of the things that defined the low in performance, I thought that they could happen, and I wasn’t able to resolve them.

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