Leeds hoping Patrick Bamford will return against West Ham

By Ian Parker
PA Wire

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is hoping Patrick Bamford will be fit to start at West Ham on Sunday after Joe Gelhardt was added to their already-lengthy injury list ahead of the FA Cup third-round tie.

Bamford has managed only seven appearances for Leeds all season – the last of them at the start of December – due to ankle and hamstring injuries but he is back in training ahead of the weekend.

It is unclear whether he will be ready to play from the start at the London Stadium but Bielsa has few alternatives up front after Tyler Roberts was hurt in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Burnley and teenager Gelhardt injured his ankle in training on Thursday.

“As has been happening habitually this season, the players are injuring themselves in the same positions,” Bielsa said.

“To the injury of Bamford and Rodrigo we add the injuries to Tyler Roberts and Gelhardt who injured his ankle in training yesterday – he’s going to be absent for three weeks. Tyler Roberts will be a similar amount of time.

“Rodrigo, we don’t have a precise date when he might return but Bamford is likely to be able to play the game on Sunday.”

Liam Cooper Kalvin Phillips, Pascal Struijk, Charlie Cresswell and Jamie Shackleton all remain sidelined, leaving Bielsa severely short of numbers once again.

The loss of Gelhardt will be a major disappointment to Leeds fans, who will have been hoping to see him start on Sunday after a string of encouraging displays.

The 19-year-old got a huge ovation when he replaced the injured Roberts last Sunday, and has quickly become a crowd favourite.

“It is very high recognition for what he produces for the team, and for the expectations that the fans have for his game and the possibilities he creates,” Bielsa said. “He’s connected in a big way with the fans.

“That’s a characteristic not many players have. He generates hope, expectation and increases the enthusiasm of the fans and there are not many players who can create that.”

Leeds have been plagued by injury problems for several weeks, a key part of the reason they had been hovering perilously close to the bottom three before last week’s victory gave them an eight-point cushion.

Asked if the injury list could push Leeds into the transfer market this month, Bielsa gave a now familiar answer.

“I have been asked this question an infinite number of times and I’ve no problem answering it again,” he said. “The response is always the same. If we bring in, in any position, a player who is better than what we have, that player would be welcome.”

But when pushed on whether he expected any new arrivals, the Argentinian added: “I can’t give you any information because I don’t have any concrete information.”

Bielsa will head to London looking to end a miserable record in the FA Cup – the 66-year-old has suffered a third-round defeat in each of his previous three seasons with Leeds.

“We always try to win in every official game we have,” he said. “There’s never a need for added motivation. Every time the players always give the maximum to win.”

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