Trio Back For United

Last updated : 10 September 2021 By Kevin Markey

Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Stuart Dallas, Junior Firpo and Mateusz Klich are all available for Sunday's game against Liverpool.

Centre-half Robin Koch remains out of action, however. The German international has not played since the opening day of the season when Leeds lost to Manchester United, a pelvic issue sidelining him for the draws with Everton and Burnley.

The 25-year-old had an injury-disrupted debut season at Elland Road, starting just 13 Premier League games as knee surgery kept him out for three months.

Dallas meanwhile was due to link up with Northern Ireland during the international break but had to pull out of Ian Baraclough's squad due to personal reasons.

Both Firpo, a left-back signed from Barcelona in the summer, and mainstay midfielder Klich missed the game at Burnley before the break having tested positive for Covid-19.

In his press conference today Bielsa declared all three available for selection as the Whites return to Premier League action.

It remains unclear if winger Raphinha will be an option for Bielsa as the Premier League row with FIFA and the Brazilian football federation rumbles on. Raphinha was called up for the Brazilian national team for the first time but a Premier League pact meant players heading to countries on the UK government's red list were not released. Had they gone, the players would have had to quarantine upon their return to England.

FIFA have since invoked a rule that means players who failed to report for international duty can be banned for five days following the break.

Bielsa insists the lack of clarity has not proved difficult as he prepares his side for the visit of Jürgen Klopp's Reds but he cannot yet confirm if Raphinha will play or sit out.

"The uncertainty wasn't a difficulty to prepare for the game," said the Whites head coach.

"The position on whether he plays will depend on what the club transmits to me."

Klopp meanwhile has discussed the situation regarding the availability of Liverpool's Brazil internationals for the game at Elland Road.

Roberto Firmino is recovering from an injury sustained before the international break, but Alisson Becker and Fabinho are currently ruled ineligible to play having not represented their country in recent matches.

Asked about their availability this weekend, Klopp told on Thursday afternoon: “I can say what I know: I don’t know in the moment. We will see, there are meetings going on.

“The thing I want to say about that is just, let’s look at the full case. So, we all know we are in the middle of a pandemic, which is difficult for all parts of life and for football it was difficult as well. We have a few more games to play than we have to play usually internationally. We had a summer break where all of a sudden somebody organised again a Copa America, where they could have played the games, for example, without playing a Copa America, which they had a year before.

“But people decide without us these kind of things. OK, nobody cares, that’s how it is. They play a Copa America, then they still have more games to play. Then a week or 10 days before the international break we get, ‘OK, we play now three games and the last game is on Thursday night.’ So we have nothing to do with that. Friday morning, by the way. Friday morning, 1.20am, would have been Brazil against Peru. We have nothing to do with that, we cannot decide anything about it, we just read these things.

“Then we have to think, ‘OK, clear, they are invited.’ But when they come back they have to quarantine [for] 10 days. Again, it’s not our decision, we didn’t say they have to quarantine [for] 10 days, we didn’t say you have to go to the national team, we can’t say nothing – we just sit in between and we think, ‘OK, what’s going on?’

“Our players, if they come back then they have to quarantine 10 days in a random hotel, next to the airport probably, which is not good for any people who have to do that but for a professional football player, being 10 days in a hotel – with the food they get from there – you lose everything. You lose muscle, you lose everything. It means 10 days in the hotel, coming back [and] needing pretty much 10 days to get on track again.

“OK, then the decision was made, not by us: if that’s like this then the players cannot go. OK, they go, other players go, some clubs let their Argentina players go. There’s a game in Brazil against Argentina, officials come on to the pitch, nobody wants to see situations like that. Get the game cancelled, stopped in that moment.

“And now, the next thing, we have a football game to play again and they tell us we cannot play our Brazilian players. It’s like, ‘Huh?’ So, we did nothing. We didn’t organise the Copa America, we are not responsible for the games they couldn’t have played. We didn’t invite players, we didn’t say when they come back there’s no exemption. We all didn’t do that.

“But in the end the only [people] who get punished are the players and the clubs – and we have nothing to do with the whole organisation around. It’s like, ‘What is happening?’

“So I don’t know what will happen at the weekend, to be honest. In this moment, we have to see what other people decide and then we will again accept that probably, do what people tell us and try to win a football game.

“But the whole situation is really just like the whole world in the moment in a nutshell – ‘Ah, in football they have these problems as well.’ Yes, we have these problems. And now we will see who finds the solution.”