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Marsch stresses importance of Bamford, Phillips and Cooper to Leeds survival bid

Jesse Marsch
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Head coach Jesse Marsch thinks Leeds’ Premier League survival bid hinges on the successful returns of Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper.

Midfield linchpin Phillips and skipper Cooper are back in contention for Friday night’s game at Wolves, while Bamford made his first start since September in Sunday’s 2-1 win against Norwich.

Phillips and Cooper have both missed Leeds’ last 14 league games and Marsch said: “It’s a big boost for them personally, but also for the presence they have in our team.

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“It’s a big positive momentum swing for our group. They’re both quality players and great personalities and will make us stronger and stronger.

“Even when I first came I knew getting the three main guys back to full health was going to really dictate our success.

“We have a good group, but you need your best players on the pitch.”

Marsch got his first win at the third attempt on Sunday thanks to Joe Gelhardt’s stoppage-time winner against Norwich.

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It kept Leeds four points above the relegation zone and they now head to Molineux aiming for back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Bamford, restricted to just eight league appearances this season due to successive ankle, hip and foot injuries, was withdrawn at half-time against Norwich as a precaution and is fit to face Wolves.

Phillips and Cooper have both missed out through hamstring injuries and during their absence Leeds have slipped to 10 defeats.

Marsch said: “We’ll see what the plan will be for their minutes (at Wolves), but just having them back in training is big.

Patrick Bamford, centre right, made his first appearance in over three months in the recent home defeat to Aston Villa

Patrick Bamford, centre right, made his first appearance in over three months in the recent home defeat to Aston Villa (Tim Goode/PA)

“We always had a goal of ‘can we get those guys back to top fitness and sharp after the international break?’. With Pat we were a little ahead of schedule.

“With Liam and Kalvin we’re on schedule, but we have more work to do.

“(Phillips) had a really, really strong training session (on Wednesday), as did Liam.

“They played with intensity with the ideas we’re trying to implement, with and without the ball, so I’m really excited to get them on the pitch.”

England international Phillips has been sorely missed, while he continues to be linked with potential moves to some of Europe’s leading clubs.

Marsch added: “I haven’t spent any time with anyone talking about long-term futures, only about living in the moment and what’s important for every day.

“Those conversations can be had down the road once we establish a few more things. For me it’s been about prioritising what’s important.

“Those conversations are more for the club, but I can always help, and of course I would love to keep guys like Kalvin, Patrick and Raphinha here as long as possible.”

Sunday match-winner Gelhardt and Rodrigo are nursing minor niggles and will be monitored before Friday night’s kick-off.

Marsch confirmed Junior Firpo could be out for up to five weeks due to the knee injury he sustained in the recent home defeat to Aston Villa.

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