A key injury relief has emerged on Leeds United’s Junior Firpo amid his recovery from a knee issue…
What’s the latest?
BBC reporter Adam Pope has confirmed that the former Barcelona full-back is closing in on a return to first-team action.
The defender has not played a competitive match for the Whites since the 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League on the 10th of March, but he is now set to be back for the run-in.
Pope Tweeted on Tuesday: “Firpo (knee) expected back in training today.“
Jesse Marsch will be delighted
This update will delight the Leeds head coach as Firpo’s return will be a huge boost for multiple reasons.
Will Firpo be at Leeds next season?
Firstly, it will give him more flexibility in his team selections. Stuart Dallas has started the last four top-flight matches at left-back and recorded SofaScore ratings of 7.0 or higher in three of those games.
This shows that he has been able to deliver quality performances in Firpo’s absence, but the Northern Irishman is able to play in a multitude of roles and the ex-LaLiga gem’s return means that he could be utilised elsewhere.
He can play at right-back, on either wing and in central midfield and this means that Marsch can use him in other areas of the pitch if required, as he will now have another left-back option to pick from. Squad depth is important for dealing with injuries and rotating the team and the head coach will, therefore, be buzzing to have another player back and available.
The Whites boss will also be keen to see how much Firpo can progress between now and the end of the campaign. He has averaged a solid SofaScore rating of 6.76 over his last eight games in all competitions, in comparison to his season average of 6.59 in the Premier League, and this suggests that he is slowly, but surely, making improvements in his game.
Marsch will be eager to work with him on the training pitch to continually develop the defender and get him into a position where he can be a reliable top-flight option at left-back. If he can do that in the final games of the season then that will put Firpo in a superb place heading into the 2022/23 campaign as he looks to nail down the left-back position in the XI.