Marcelo Bielsa's 'many objectives' for Leeds United nine-day break after hectic Premier League spell and before West Ham trip

Marcelo Bielsa has 'many objectives' for the period between Leeds United's defeat to Aston Villa and their game at West Ham and rest and recuperation were high on the agenda.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 5:08 pm
KEY OBJECTIVES - Marcelo Bielsa wanted to give Leeds United players with niggles a chance to rest and recover this week, without a fixture before Monday's visit to West Ham United. Pic: Getty

The Whites played 13 games in 62 days over the busiest period of the Premier League season - albeit one fewer than they played from Christmas to March during their victorious Championship campaign - and had injuries to key players to deal with.

Bielsa lost Rodrigo [groin], Kalvin Phillips [calf], Jamie Shackleton [groin] and Ian Poveda [ankle] to injury, while Diego Llorente only returned from his latest set-back last week against Southampton and Mateusz Klich had to play through the pain barrier.

Other players picked up niggles but were able to report for top flight duty, so a change of pace this week was welcome.

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"There are many objectives," said Bielsa when asked about his priority for the nine day spell without a fixture.

For a man whose physical demands and training regime are often highlighted when the oft-raised but never proven subject of 'burnout' is raised by pundits, Bielsa is preaching rest and recovery.

"We want to have more players in the squad by recovering those who are injured, that the players who have been playing who have niggles can resolve them and in general to manage that in the nine days the team can rest a little," he said.

Llorente coming through back-to-back first team games without issue was a big boost for Leeds but the break from league action this week will allow him to go into the Hammers clash fresh.

Neither Rodrigo nor Phillips were risked in Monday's Under 23s game against Crystal Palace, while Poveda remained on the bench for Mark Jackson's side.

Bielsa resisted the temptation to give Premier League 2 minutes to Pablo Hernandez, Jack Harrison and Gjanni Alioski, who didn't make the starting XI for Villa.

Gaetano Berardi did make his comeback from an ACL injury and surgery however, getting 45 minutes in the defeat to the Eagles second string and he may be involved again when the 23s go to Wolves on Friday. That game could also present an opportunity for first team players in need of match sharpness and it would not be a complete surprise to see Phillips or Rodrigo given cameo appearances, if their recovery process is at a sufficiently advanced stage, to shake off any rust before the trip to West Ham next Monday.

Robin Koch was due to return to training this week as he attempts to complete his rehabilitation following knee surgery.