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Leeds United 1 v 0 Watford
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 2nd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Koch still out with rebellious pubis
Thursday, 30th Sep 2021 21:24 by Tim Whelan

We have some team news for the Watford game from Marcello Bielsa’s weekly press conference, and he will have a few more defensive options than a week ago, although Robin Koch will still be missing for a while yet.

The official word is that Koch is still sidelined with a pubis injury that has been described as "rebellious". (Wikipedia tells me that the pubic bone, or pubis, is the most forward-facing of the three main bones making up the pelvis). And they don’t yet know how much longer this problem will keep him out for.

But there is some better news elsewhere, as Diego Llorente is available again after missing the last three games with a hamstring issue, and Pascal Struijk is back after his three-match suspension. So Bielsa will have quite a few central defenders to chose from, which will be a bit of a headache after the excellent performance of Charlie Cresswell last week.

Luke Ayling is still out and will soon have a minor operation to clean out of his knee, but this shouldn’t keep him out for too long. Further forward, Raphinha will be able to play despite the thigh problem that caused him to limp off against West Ham, but Bamford’s ankle injury will keep him out for another couple for weeks.

Bielsa also said he was impressed by 18-year-old midfielder Lewis Bate, who he praised for his control and passing of the ball as well as his positional sense. Bate starred in the under 23s win at Oldham on Tuesday in the EFL Trophy, and he may be in contention for a place on the bench for the first team on Thursday.

Bielsa said there has been no need to build the confidence of the players after a winless start to the season "There is no need to give something that is already there". But the slow start to the season must be preying on his mind, and we really need a win against Watford to climb out of the bottom three at least. And perhaps the return of a couple of key players will give us the impetus we need.


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