Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has addressed the selection dilemma surrounding strikers Eddie Nketiah and Patrick Bamford, indicating the latter is set to start once again.
With four goals each, the duo are the Whites’ top scorers this season, however, Nketiah, who joined on loan from Arsenal in the summer, has played 548 fewer minutes this season.
Bamford has started every Championship game so far, with the Gunners loanee being restricted to substitute appearances and Carabao Cup starts.
Nketiah has also regularly found the net for Leeds U23s and England U21s in the 2019/20 campaign and scored a hat-trick for the latter during the international break.
Should Leeds start Nketiah on Saturday?
The 20-year-old spoke out about his disappointment at his lack of first-team opportunities at Leeds after the England U21s game earlier this week.
The Whites have struggled for goals in recent weeks but, speaking to LUTV ahead of their meeting with Birmingham City on Saturday, Bielsa hinted he was going to stick with Bamford.
Asked about Nketiah’s performances during the international break, he said: “It is very important. Nketiah is always a player that is involved. He is a player that at the moment is not in the 11 starting players.
“We are not being very efficient, so it is natural that one striker is claimed for by the people. Obviously, people start to talk about whether it is Bamford or Nketiah but football changes every day.
“In the game before Millwall (against West Bromwich Albion) the supporters recognised Bamford a lot, which was maybe the first time that had happened. That is a dynamic that changes every match.
“I am in charge. I have to try and manage the resources that the team has. It is very important Eddie is a success at Leeds. If he doesn’t do well at Leeds the responsibility is mine and that will be fair because Nketiah is a player full of resources.
“As manager I have to know how to manage all this skill to make the team better.”
He added: “The person who wants Nketiah’s success at Leeds the most is me but also I value Bamford a lot.
“When one player deserves to start after I will back them to stay in the team and Nketiah is in this process.”
A win for the Whites could see them regain their place at the top of the Championship, while a loss could see them slide out of the top six altogether–such is the congestion at the top of the table.
After his goals and comments during the break, the calls for Nketiah to be put into the starting XI have been even louder from Leeds fans.
However, it appears they’re set to be disappointed as Bielsa has indicated he will miss out once again against the Blues.
His final comments are interesting as they suggest that the Arsenal man may get a run in the starting line up in the future.