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Leeds Live
Andrew Dowdeswell

Charlie Austin claims Leeds United have dealt with league-wide issue better than any other team

Charlie Austin says that Leeds United deserve more recognition for the way in which Marcelo Bielsa and his squad have handled a slew of injury issues throughout the season.

Leeds have impressed in their first campaign back in the English top flight for 16 years. They currently sit just outside the top half and have all-but secured safety from relegation without ever being remotely threatened.

Bielsa's vivacious style of play has shocked, surprised, and shone, while the individual players have proven their ability to step up to the Premier League plate.

But while other teams' injury issues have been well-documented, Leeds have simply dealt with theirs and ploughed on regardless.

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Liverpool's problems at centre-back are well-known. Southampton's frequent use of standout U23s has been highly debated in recent weeks, while Newcastle United's current problems are a hot topic at the moment, too.

But former Southampton striker Austin says that Leeds deserve more recognition for the way in which the entire squad has worked in harmony during their injury difficulties.

"That just shows how good of a job he’s (Marcelo Bielsa) done and how much trust he has in the group of players," he told talkSPORT.

"But not only the starting XI, the whole squad; this is what goes under the radar, it’s the squad that’s doing it for Leeds, not just eleven players. For the other three teams that we are talking about, their squad has not been able to replace the players that have been injured."

Leeds' most pressing injury issues have come across the backline. New centre-back signings Robin Koch and Diego Llorente have hardly featured all season, combining for less than 1200 Premier League minutes, failing to play a single minute together.

At one stage, Liam Cooper was also out with injury and Bielsa had to rely on Pascal Struijk, midfielder Kalvin Phillips, and full-back Luke Ayling to cover at centre-back.

Phillips himself has missed seven league games this season, with Leeds losing six of them.

It is a similar situation to that of Liverpool's, who now have three senior centre-backs facing long-term absences, but Austin believes that Leeds have not been given the praise they deserve.

It should be said, Llorente has now returned to action and has impressed in his first two starts back.

Koch, who underwent knee surgery earlier in the season, returned to training this week, and while he may need some time to get up to speed, he is certainly making good progress.

Moreover, Phillips is being treated cautiously with his calf problem and could be back in the fold soon.

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