Marcelo Bielsa believes Pablo Hernandez still has a lot to offer Leeds

Mark Walker, PA
·2-min read

Marcelo Bielsa insists Pablo Hernandez still has a big part to play for Leeds in the Premier League this season.

Hernandez is a hugely popular figure at Elland Road, but has found himself on the periphery having played a starring role in Leeds’ return to the top flight.

Bielsa’s side play Crystal Palace at home on Monday night and it remains to be seen if 35-year-old Hernandez is handed a rare start in the continued absence of injured club record signing Rodrigo.

When asked about Hernandez’s limited game time, Bielsa said: “I always act in the way I’m about to tell you, that I’ve said many times, and I have no difficulty in explaining it once more.

“If I didn’t think Pablo had the same possibilities as his team-mates, and specifically those who play in his position, I wouldn’t have wanted him to be a part of the group, especially because we’re a group of few players.

“I wouldn’t have picked a player to be part of the squad if I didn’t think he offered solutions.”

Rodrigo missed Wednesday night’s home defeat to Everton due to a muscular injury, but Hernandez was again named among the substitutes.

Hernandez became the first player in the club’s history to be voted fans’ player of the year for three successive seasons last summer.

But he has struggled to recover his best form following a series of muscular injuries and has been limited to 10 league appearances and just two starts since Leeds won promotion.

“After the season goes by, game-by-game, I take decisions,” Bielsa said.

“I have no certainty the decisions I take are the best ones, but I take them by closely evaluating the situation.”

Leeds will be bidding to buck the trend on Monday at Elland Road as six of their nine top-flight wins this season have come away from home.

They lost 4-1 at Selhurst Park in November and the return fixture promises to be another intriguing encounter between Leeds linchpin Kalvin Phillips and Palace playmaker Eberechi Eze.

But Bielsa said he will not be putting in place specific measures to nullify any particular Palace player.

“It’s not that there’s a formula which we have to neutralise the number 25 (Eze),” the Argentinian said.

“He moves in certain spaces and determines certain spaces on the pitch normally. We position players in that sector to prevent him from evolving or producing his best.

“When an opponent beats one of our players there’s an elective response we have allocated. (But) to attribute a formula to neutralise one player is unreal.”