Marcelo Bielsa 'unsure' over Leeds United options for Reading visit
Aapo Halme and Will Huffer could be called into action again on Tuesday with Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa uncertain of having Pontus Jansson or Bailey Peacock-Farrell available.
Bielsa relied on 20-year-olds Huffer and Halme to see him through Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bristol City and could turn to them for a second time when Reading come to Elland Road.
Huffer, an academy goalkeeper and England Under-20 international, made his debut as a replacement for Bailey Peacock-Farrell after the stopper suffered a knee injury in training on Wednesday.
Bielsa was without a keeper with high-level first-team experience following the broken leg which put an end to Jamal Blackman’s season-long loan from Chelsea during the international break.
Halme, meanwhile, stepped in for Pontus Jansson who was nursing a foot injury suffered in Leeds’ previous league game, a 4-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
United rode major selection issues to beat a 10-man Bristol City side and record a clean sheet, settinng themselves up for a meeting with a Reading team who are above the Championship’s relegation places on goal difference alone.
Peacock-Farrell and Jansson could yet return to Bielsa’s starting line-up on Tuesday but the Argentinian hinted at late decisions on both players, saying: “I couldn’t tell you. I’m not sure if Jansson or Farrell will be available for the next game.”
Bristol City struggled to put serious pressure on Huffer or Halme, both of whom have been playing for Leeds’ Under-23s this season, and Huffer was forced to deal with just one shot on target.
Bielsa praised Halme for a “good performance” and said he was happy to see Huffer cope with the pressure of an unplanned debut, despite the match asking little of him.
“For Will's it's different because he didn't have to go through a challenge,” Bielsa said. “The main difficulty for him was to assimilate the pressure that was on him because it was his first game.”
Leeds forced a victory after Lee Johnson’s side were reduced to 10 men by a red card shown to midfielder Josh Brownhill on 55 minutes.
Bielsa introduced Jack Harrison and Samuel Saiz from the bench and after Kemar Roofe opened the scoring on 69 minutes, Saiz’s perfect cross allowed Pablo Hernandez to head in a second goal two minutes from time.
Saiz has been out of favour since a 2-0 win over Ipswich Town last month but Saturday’s assist was his second in his last two appearances a substitute, both of them converted by Hernandez.
Asked if the Spanish playmaker might come into Leeds’ starting line-up against Reading, Bielsa said: “I haven't thought about the starting XI for Tuesday.”
Hernandez had a hand in the opener on Saturday, producing a shot which Roofe turned into the net from close range, and the 33-year-old’s late finish was the 11th goal which he has either created or scored this season.
Bielsa said: "Pablo is always a player with a lot of influence. He always improves the style of our team. When he scores goals he's even more important.”