Leeds’ injury crisis appears to be easing as Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo and Pascal Struijk are all hoping to return from injury in Sunday’s Premier League game at West Ham.
Bamford has been restricted to six league appearances this season due to ankle and hip problems, while Rodrigo and Struijk have been sidelined with respective heel and foot injuries.
Leeds’ injury list has reached double figures in recent weeks and when asked who might be back on Sunday, boss Marcelo Bielsa said: “It’s probable that Pascal, Rodrigo and Bamford are options to return.”
Bielsa will still be without eight injured or suspended players at the London Stadium, but Bamford’s return in particular will be a major boost to their top-flight survival chances.
Bamford sustained an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle in September and Bielsa revealed his decision not to withdraw the striker possibly aggravated the problem.
“The injury was towards the end of the game and I asked Bamford to finish what was left of the game because we needed him,” Bielsa said. “Perhaps me asking him to do that aggravated his injury.”
Bielsa made his admission to highlight how pleased he had been with his players’ attitude after a succession of injuries left him with a threadbare squad.
“Rodrigo played for a long time with a knock which eventually forced him to stop,” Bielsa said.
“(Stuart) Dallas is a player who plays every week with something that with another player would probably rule him out. (Luke) Ayling is the same.
“All the players have shown great character. All the players have shortened their time of recovery.”
Kalvin Phillips and skipper Liam Cooper (both hamstring) have been out since early December, while Joe Gelhardt, Jamie Shackleton (both ankle), Charlie Cresswell (shoulder) and Sam Greenwood all remain sidelined.
Diego Llorente and Tyler Roberts will both miss out at West Ham through suspension, but the latter is also nursing a calf strain.
Given the number of injuries, Leeds fans were surprised by young defender Cody Drameh’s loan switch this week to Cardiff for the rest of the season.
Drameh made his full Premier League debut last month and Bielsa revealed he did not want the 20-year-old to leave Elland Road.
The Argentinian said: “I didn’t think he needed to play games elsewhere. He was a player who was very necessary with all of the absences that we have.
“But he preferred to go and play outside of Leeds. In a situation when opportunities for youngsters has increased, clearly in this case, Drameh would prefer to experiment outside our team.”
Bielsa said other young players had opted to leave the club and insisted he was not disappointed by Drameh’s decision.
He added: “Evidently, what I have proposed to them is not what they desire. So I do not criticise it, I don’t condemn it. It doesn’t disappoint me.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Adam Forshaw has signed a new contract with the club.
The 30-year-old, who joined the Whites from Middlesbrough in January 2018, was set to see his existing deal expire at the end of the season but he has agreed a one-year extension to keep him at Elland Road until the summer of 2023. Leeds also have an option to extend the deal by a further 12 months.
After recovering from a hip injury that kept him out for almost two years, Forshaw made his first competitive start for 697 days against Crewe in the Carabao Cup in August.
He has gone on to make 15 appearances for Bielsa’s team this season and is back to being a first-team regular.