Marcelo Bielsa drops Aapo Halme hint with defender 'ready' to make long-awaited Leeds United debut

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Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has revealed that defender Aapo Halme has entered his thoughts to help solve the Whites mini-injury crisis this weekend against Championship opposition Bristol City.

Leeds added the highly-rated Finnish defender to their ranks in January from HJK Helsinki with the 6ft 4in centre-back signing a four-year contract in West Yorkshire. Halme made the switch to England with the view to stepping up to first team action following an adjustment period.

A foot injury picked up during a training session following his arrival, which resulted in surgery, ended with Halme being ruled out for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign as he spent nearly nine months on the sidelines before finally making his debut for the club against Queens Park Rangers in the Professional Development League in late August.

Halme has put in a number of strong performances for the Under-23s since his return, particularly against Bolton Wanderers during their first defeat of the season in September, but picked up a knock last month against Notts County in Premier League Cup action which saw him sidelined once again.

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The 20-year-old though returned to the fold last Friday as the Whites fell to an Under-23s defeat to Birmingham City at Thorp Arch but is yet to be included in a senior match day squad.

Bielsa, who was speaking ahead of this weekend's Championship clash with Bristol City, revealed that Pontus Jansson has now joined fellow defenders Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi on the treatment table leaving United with one recognised fully fit senior centre-back in club captain Liam Cooper.

The Argentine though said he would be happy to use the young Finnish defender if needed: "[Kalvin] Phillips can play as a centre-back or Aapo Halme is another possibility. He’s ready."

When quizzed about his fitness following a long lay-off the 63-year-old responded: "He is now well and he has played. I see him with a good level but you draw conclusions only on the games."