Marcelo Bielsa’s selection headache shows little sign of easing as Leeds’ Premier League win against relegation rivals Burnley came at a cost.
Leeds’ 3-1 victory lifted them eight points clear of the bottom three, but Tyler Roberts joined their debilitating injury list after being withdrawn in the 58th minute.
Roberts hobbled off with what appeared to be a calf injury, while the Wales forward and defender Diego Llorente both face one-match bans after receiving their fifth bookings of the season.
Bielsa was satisfied with how Roberts’ replacement, teenager Joe Gelhardt, and fellow substitute Dan James played key roles in helping Leeds maintain their edge.
“What we were trying to do was recover the best way we are trying to play and in some ways we got it,” Bielsa said of his second-half changes.
“Gelhardt coming on for Tyler maintained the game how we wanted it and down the left James opened up paths and he ended up scoring.”
James’ stoppage-time header sealed a significant win for Leeds, who had earlier regained the lead through Stuart Dallas after Burnley substitute Maxwel Cornet’s excellent free-kick cancelled out Jack Harrison’s first-half opener.
Leeds secured their fourth league win of the season without talisman Kalvin Phillips, Patrick Bamford, skipper Liam Cooper and club record signing Rodrigo, plus defenders Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton.
Junior Firpo (ban) and Llorente (illness) both returned to face Burnley as Leeds regrouped during a two-week break due to postponed matches and delivered a much-improved display after the recent 4-1 home defeat to Arsenal.
Bielsa added: “In some way we managed to get in behind, there was a lot of combination play, there was a defensive security.
“Even if it wasn’t absolute, it was important and we had the ball a lot of the time. We also managed to finish our attacks in the opponent’s half.”
Burnley remain third-from-bottom with just one league win all season, two points from safety but with a game in hand on the team immediately above them, Watford.
Clarets fans will be hoping the club can strengthen their squad during the January transfer window, but boss Sean Dyche stressed that would not be easy.
He said: “It still doesn’t change the ‘rules’. There has to be the finance, a team that wants to sell a player. The market is the market.
“The only way you can change the ‘rules’ is if you put a lot of money in, even the superpower teams sometimes can’t sign a player in January.”
Burnley’s solitary league win this season was against Brentford in October, but they have survived several relegation battles during six successive seasons in the top flight.
Dyche added: “I have never lost belief in these players, I won’t do. I have never lost pride in them, the respect I have for them is enormous.”