Marcelo Bielsa names his Leeds United team to face West Ham on Friday night as Diego Llorente joins Robin Koch on the sideline

Marcelo Bielsa has removed any doubt about his team selection for Leeds United's game against West Ham on Friday night by naming it two days before.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 1:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 1:53 pm
STARTING PLACE - Rodrigo will return to the Leeds United line-up on Friday when they welcome West Ham to Elland Road. Pic: Getty

Diego Llorente suffered a new muscle injury against Chelsea and sits out, along with fellow centre-half Robin Koch who had surgery yesterday and could miss around three months.

Bielsa has responded to the injury situation in the centre of his defence by simply moving Luke Ayling into the middle to partner Liam Cooper, with Stuart Dallas at right-back and Gjanni Alioski at left-back.

Record signing Rodrigo comes back into the starting XI to take the number 10 role.

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Bielsa revealed his side after first suggesting either Ayling or Kalvin Phillips could play in the heart of the defence. He was asked if he wanted to keep West Ham guessing, but responded with the exact line-up he had planned.

"Rodrigo Moreno is going to come in for Llorente and the 11 will be Meslier, Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Alioski, Phillips, Klich, Moreno, Raphinha, Harrison, Bamford," he said.

Llorente came back from a groin injury to make his Leeds debut off the bench at Chelsea on Saturday but appeared to pull up when tracking back in injury time to try and prevent Christian Pulisic scoring the hosts' third goal.

"He has a muscular problem," said Bielsa.

"We won't be able to count on him for at least two weeks but we will have to see how long it takes to cure. Perhaps it may last longer depending on his evolution - for sure at least two or three weeks we won't be able to count on him."

With the January transfer window looming, another manager might be tempted to bolster his defensive options but Bielsa is content with what he has at the club already and revealed that Gaetano Berardi should have completed his rehabilitation from knee surgery by February.

"[Koch's] surgery went well, the length of his absence depends on the evolution but he's likely to be out for around three months," said the Whites head coach.

"Of course it's a shame to miss him for such a long period but during a season it's normal for injuries like this to happen to a team.

"In the game against Aston Villa Ayling played a very good game at centre-half and in the game against Liverpool Pascal [Struijk] played as a centre-back and had a very good game. In the Championship Phillips also played there and adapted to this role. We're not thinking of the possibility of bringing another centre-back into the team. Apart from that we also expect to count on Berardi from February."

Both Pablo Hernandez and Jamie Shackleton are available for selection after muscle problems, although neither are in peak condition Bielsa added.

"Shackleton and Pablo whilst they don't have the rhythm we would like, they are healthy and available."