Marcelo Bielsa has admitted his Leeds United side missed Pablo Hernandez’s quality during the midfielder’s absence against Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Hernandez suffered a muscular injury while preparing to face Derby County earlier this month and the midfielder played through the pain against the Rams, but this meant he was absent for the Whites’ trip to The Valley over the weekend.
Leeds suffered their first away defeat of the season against Lee Bowyer’s side, as Macauley Bonne’s 32nd-minute goal secured victory for the Addicks and saw Leeds lose their spot at the top of the table.
Helder Costa replaced Hernandez in the Leeds side to make his full league debut for the club at The Valley, but the former Wolves man struggled to assert his influence on the game as Bielsa’s side failed to capitalise on their dominance of possession.
The Argentine has now admitted Leeds missed Hernandez’s presence during the match, but he also pointed out that Leeds were in a good position to replace him with Costa taking his place in the side.
“There are two complimentary views. You always miss one player like Pablo when he is not in the team. The second is we are in good condition to put a player in to replace him,” he told Leeds Live.
“Proof: one offensive game against Derby was the same with Charlton. In both games we have created similar enough chances to score. For this reason, we miss Pablo, we cannot say otherwise, but the team can resolve his absence.”
Bielsa also confirmed Hernandez would again be absent for the visit of West Brom at Elland Road on Tuesday, as he is still completing his recovery from the muscle injury.
There can be no doubt that Leeds would have benefitted from Hernandez during their performance at The Valley, as he would have brought an element of creativity to the side that was otherwise absent.
Bielsa’s side may have recorded 72% possession during the match, but they failed to seriously unlock Charlton’s defence and Hernandez may have possessed the cutting edge to carve an opening for his side.
The positive news is that it doesn’t appear Hernandez has a serious injury as there is a chance he could return for the Millwall clash on the weekend, and this will come as a serious relief to Leeds supporters.
However, one benefit of Hernandez’s absence is that Costa will now get at least a short run of games in the side to aid his adaptation to life at Leeds. The winger did not exactly thrive during a difficult match at Charlton, but Leeds will be hoping he has more success during his potential outing against West Brom on Tuesday.