Marcelo Bielsa provides positive Diego Llorente fitness update as Leeds United head coach waits on Liam Cooper news

LEEDS United's Spanish international defender Diego Llorente is returning to training today following two spells on the sidelines with separate injuries.

Monday, 21st December 2020, 9:49 am
Updated Monday, 21st December 2020, 9:50 am

Summer recruit Llorente featured in United's match-day squad for the first time as an unused substitute in October's 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City, after which the defender headed for international duty with Spain.

The 27-year-old excelled facing Cristiano Ronaldo as Spain held Portugal to a goalless draw in an international friendly in Lisbon but the £18m Whites recruit then picked up a groin injury which led to the defender leaving the international camp early and returning to Thorp Arch.

Llorente was thought to be facing around three weeks out but Bielsa then revealed that the centre-back had recovered only to suffer a fresh setback.

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BACK IN TRAINING: Leeds United's Spanish international centre-back Diego Llorente, left, pictured facing Chelsea's Olivier Giroud on his Whites debut in this month's 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge. Photo by Matthew Childs - Pool/Getty Images.

After returning to fitness, Bielsa then hoped to give Llorente game time for United's under-23s before any first team action but United's head coach then lost fellow centre-back Robin Koch to a knee injury in this month's 3-1 loss at Chelsea for which a returning Llorente was on the bench.

Llorente replaced Koch in the eighth minute for his Whites debut but finished the game with a muscular injury that has kept him out since.

With Koch facing up to three months out after knee surgery, Bielsa then saw another of his centre-backs injured in Sunday's 6-2 loss at Manchester United as captain Liam Cooper picked up a knock and had to be substituted for Leif Davis with 18 minutes left.

Speaking after the defeat at Old Trafford, Bielsa said he was unsure as to the extent of Cooper's injury but provided a positive update regards former Real Sociedad defender Llorente's forthcoming return.

Bielsa said: "I didn’t know the severity of Cooper's injury and Llorente will start to train with us from tomorrow."

Taking to social media following his debut against Chelsea, Llorente said earlier this month: "My debut finally came after so much time waiting to play my first game.

"Unfortunately, the result wasn't good and I'll have to stop due to some aches. I'll work, work and work to get well as soon as possible and get back stronger!"

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Thank you Laura Collins