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Marcelo Bielsa urges Leeds to make their possession count

Sheffield United v Leeds United – Premier League – Bramall Lane
(Image credit: Alex Livesey)

Marcelo Bielsa has warned his Leeds players it is crucial they retain their attacking reputation or risk failing to establish themselves in the top flight.

Bielsa believes his side’s failure to convert their chances against Wolves on Monday night handed their opponents the belief they required to escape with a 1-0 win at Elland Road.

And a repeat performance at unbeaten Aston Villa on Friday could further threaten the aura which accompanied Leeds into the Premier League, and was enhanced by their opening-day performance at Liverpool.

Kalvin Phillips has a shoulder injury

Kalvin Phillips has a shoulder injury (Michael Regan/PA)

Bielsa said: “In a team like us that attacks, it is not good when our attacks don’t create danger.

“When this happens the opponent feels that we are not able to cause them much danger, and this makes the game more even.

“The conclusion is that we understand why we lost the game even though we shouldn’t have, and we dominated the large majority of it.”

Liam Cooper was injured on international duty

Liam Cooper was injured on international duty (Paul Ellis/PA)

Bielsa has injury problems ahead of the trip to Villa Park, with Kalvin Phillips ruled out for a number of weeks after picking up a serious shoulder injury.

Phillips will be replaced in midfield by Dutchman Pascal Struijk, who had stepped in for Liam Cooper on Monday after the centre-back suffered a recurrence of a recent groin injury.

Cooper remains a doubt for the trip to Villa while Diego Llorente is definitely out, also with a groin strain which he sustained on international duty.

Leeds United v Hull City – Carabao Cup – Second Round – Elland Road

Pascal Struijk will move into midfield to replace Kalvin Phillips (Phil Noble/PA)

The flexibility offered by Struijk is key to Bielsa’s approach as he seeks to get the best from a squad which he insists retains strength in numbers despite the recent injury blows.

“We have many players who can play in a number of positions,” added Bielsa. “Being able to play in more than one position always helps the manager.

“The squad is not small because we have two players per position, and there are no big differences between the two players who occupy each position.

“At the moment we currently have injuries in the same positions but that doesn’t mean we have a small squad. We can also count on the players from the academy who deserve their spot in the squad.”