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Leeds United v Preston North End: Senior under-23s players gaining valuable game time for Lilywhites clash

Marcelo Bielsa.
Marcelo Bielsa.
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HEAD COACH Marcelo Bielsa says first team players featuring for Leeds United's under-23s on Monday such as Adam Forshaw have been fielded to gain valuable fitness and activity with a view to still playing a part in the club's Championship encounter at home to Preston North End.

The back-from-injury Forshaw features as part of a strong Whites under-23s squad taking on Sheffield Wednesday at Thorp Arch today with Forshaw on the bench along with 17-year-old striker Ryan Edmondson.

Chelsea loanee duo midfielder Lewis Baker and goalkeeper Jamal Blackman are both starting alongside 17-year-old striker Jack Clarke plus defenders Conor Shaughnessy and Tom Pearce who have all been involved with the Whites first team squad.

Leeds have five players out injured for Tuesday night's clash with Preston at Elland Road in Kemar Roofe, Patrick Bamford, Pablo Hernandez, Gaetano Berardi and Jamie Shackleton with Bielsa admitting that the more senior players involved with the under-23s today would also be part of the Whites squad to face Preston.

Asked if the senior players featuring for the under-23s today could also play a part against Preston, Bielsa said: "Yes, that’s the plan.

"I explain again, it’s not good if a player plays 45 minutes before another game, but even worse than this is when you need a player to go and play a game when he doesn’t have the tempo, the fitness to play a professional game.

"It’s better to have more activity and having the player closer to his best level than to have a player fit and rested, but far away from his best level.

"I need to explain this kind of thing because the decision I am taking, without explanation, would be imprudent."

Bielsa also admitted that he was "sad" for Whites midfielder Eunan O'Kane who broke his leg in two places playing on loan at Luton Town on Saturday.

"I am very sad about it and I am sad for him," said Bielsa, asked about O'Kane at his pre-Preston North End press conference.

"I am ashamed to find this out in this question. I should have got this information faster, that’s all I can say."

Asked if there were any fresh injuries from the weekend or any updates with United's current absentees, Bielsa said: "No. It's the same as before.

"Shackleton and Berardi are close to the first team or close to coming back, Roofe and Pablo will need more time, it will be longer for Bamford and with Brown we don't have any precise date for him."