Gary Neville makes Leeds United claim amid Marcelo Bielsa's bid to beat the Premier League drop

Gary Neville believes 'flaky' Leeds United's Premier League survival will hinge on Marcelo Bielsa's returning players.

By Joe Urquhart
Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 12:03 pm

The Whites sit five points above the top flight drop zone heading into the new year after a mixed first half of results during the 2021/22 campaign.

Injuries have hit Bielsa's squad hard in recent months, with the club missing no less than 10 senior players for the visit of Arsenal last time out.

Leeds have seen their last two scheduled fixtures over the festive period postponed - a visit to Liverpool on Boxing Day and the hosting of Aston Villa today - due to a small Covid outbreak in LS11 but now face a crucial clash with Burnley on Sunday at Elland Road.

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Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. Pic: Getty

The Clarets sit in the bottom three - trailing Leeds by five points alongside Newcastle United - and hold three games in hand on Bielsa's men though do face Manchester United on Thursday night at Old Trafford before the weekend clash in West Yorkshire.

Bielsa will be hoping a number of those in his squad currently battling issues in the treatment room will be able to make a comeback against Sean Dyche's outfit to provide a boost.

Burnley, meanwhile, haven't kicked a ball in anger since December 12 owing to a number of rearrangements and now face two games in four days later this week.

Neville - who was assessing the current relegation battle in England's top tier - voiced his concerns for Leeds should they not see players return sooner rather than later.

“It’s the most worried I’ve ever been about Burnley going down,” he told Sky Sports.

“Not because Burnley have regressed, I think the quality of the league is so good, it’s so good and if Newcastle and Leeds play to the standard that I think they can do, I think Burnley are in serious trouble.

"The reason I think Burnley will survive is because I trust them in terms of consistency more than the rest.

“Leeds and Newcastle both worry me, Leeds are flaky. I know they’ve got injuries at the moment. But they are a little bit flaky. If they get [Patrick] Bamford and Kalvin Phillips back and the others then they should be just okay.

"Newcastle keep pointing towards the January transfer window as if it's going to be some magical moment. They're still going to have a massive amount to do.

"But I am worried about Burnley more than I have been just because I think the quality of the league is the best I've ever seen."