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Marcelo Bielsa wants Jack Grealish to face Leeds United

Jack Grealish missed Villa's defeat to Leicester with a leg injury and it is unclear if the England midfielder will be ready to return this weekend.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa wants to see Jack Grealish back in the Aston Villa line-up when the sides meet at Elland Road on Saturday evening.

Grealish was missing for Villa's defeat to Leicester last weekend, with his absence sparking a controversy after news of his injury was effectively 'leaked' by Villa players and coaches removing him from their fantasy teams.

Dean Smith played down reports of a long-term problem, but it is unclear if the England midfielder will be ready to return this weekend.

Jack Grealish missed Villa's 2-1 home defeat to Leicester on Sunday
Jack Grealish missed Villa's 2-1 home defeat to Leicester on Sunday (Andrew Couldridge/PA)

"He is a great player who can unbalance you," Bielsa said.

"But I always prefer that opponents have their best players available because even if that fortifies a team, and makes them more scary to face, it's also a stimulus for us to face such players, to try to neutralise them."

Bielsa has injury concerns of his own. Though he indicated Mateusz Klich could be available, both Rodrigo and Kalvin Phillips remain sidelined while Robin Koch is not expected back in training until next week.

Phillips has already missed three games with what was initially thought to be a minor calf complaint.

Leeds United v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Elland Road
Kalvin Phillips is set to miss a fourth game with a calf injury (Jon Super/PA)

"When he got injured, like I told you, he had an option of having a quicker return, but his injury is in his calf and it's in a place where we have to avoid a recurrence because that would make the situation worse," Bielsa said.

"We're being very cautious so that when he returns he returns for definite."

Leeds will start this weekend's match just one point behind Villa, looking to cement their place in the top half of the table and perhaps edge their way into the fight for Europe.

A second-half hat-trick from Patrick Bamford saw Leeds win 3-0 at Villa Park when the two teams last met in October.

Patrick Bamford, right, scored a hat-trick when the two teams met in October
Patrick Bamford, right, scored a hat-trick when the two teams met in October (Nick Potts/PA)

It was a big win over a Villa side who had made a superb start to the season, one that indicated Leeds could compete in the Premier League, but Bielsa downplayed any long-term effect it had on his players' confidence levels.

"The competition is long and unstable so it makes it hard for me to believe the effect of one game lasts a long time," he said.

"In that game we showed a very high version of ourselves," the Argentinian added. "In the 20 games since they've had ups and downs and so have we.

"This is their second year back in the Premier League and they've made corrections and that's an advantage. Those corrections come from mistakes and it's impossible to come from the Championship to the Premier League and not make mistakes."

Leeds moved up to 10th with a 3-0 win over Southampton on Tuesday night, with all the goals coming in the second half.

After the match Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl complained that Leeds were "nasty", committing tactical fouls in midfield to cut out counter-attacks.

But Bielsa denied the charge.

Leeds United v Southampton – Premier League – Elland Road
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was unhappy with Leeds after Tuesday's loss (Laurence Griffiths/PA)

"If we made tactical fouls which stopped them counter-attacking then I understand his comment, but I sincerely didn't think we made them," he said.

"If you, who ask me the question, analyse the game and see the fouls, you will see if it's fair or not. I think what the rules allow, you have to permit it...

"The rules can be used for the game to be fluid, which is the objective in which the rules were created. To make the game more beautiful, but they can also be used to within what's allowed, to make the game less beautiful. This is legitimate.

"I sincerely don't think we did this. If their coach said this, then maybe I am in the wrong."

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Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa pictured on February 14, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City32235467234474
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd31189461342763
3Leicester CityLeicester31175955371856
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham31167851391255
5Chelsea31159750311954
6Liverpool31157953371652
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs311471052351749
8Everton30146104138348
9Arsenal31136124335845
10Leeds UnitedLeeds31143144949045
11Aston Villa301351243331044
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves31108133141-1038
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton31106153956-1736
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton31712123338-533
16Burnley3189142542-1733
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3188153251-1932
18Fulham32511162442-1826
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3159172859-3124
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3142251755-3814

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