Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa says Preston North End have 'a great midfield'

Marcelo Bielsa is expecting Preston North End to give his unchanged Leeds United a stern test at Deepdale on Tuesday, with the midfield the main battleground.

With Pablo Hernandez not yet ready to return from injury, Leeds are expected to field the side which marked the club's centenary with a 1-0 win over Birmingham City. Preston remain in the play-off places despite their eight-match unbeaten Championship run ending in agonising fashion on Saturday, Reading's Matthew Miazga scoring the only goal in the eighth added minute at the Madejski Stadium.

Bielsa, though, is a fan of Alex Neil's side.

"For me, Preston in the last season was one of the teams who played better in the Championship," said the Argentinian. "I like their style of play, their players have good skills to manage the ball, they have a great midfield and it is a team that behind and in front of midfield they have players of a good level.

Marcelo BielsaMarcelo Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa

"It is not a surprise for me, I saw the same last season."

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As well as Tuesday's game, the influential Hernandez is expected to miss Saturday's derby at Sheffield Wednesday with a different injury to the one which kept him out of the three matches before the international break, two of which the Whites lost.

"Pablo we think is not going to be able to play this week," said Bielsa. "It's a different injury. The last injury was in the calf and now it is behind the knee in the hamstring."

After a fortnight without a game because of the international break, Leeds now play three in eight days, meaning the intense Bielsa will be less demanding in his preparations at Thorp Arch this week.

"Resting is the most important thing with some brief intense stimulus on the pitch, because they are also necessary," he commented. "(I) try to ensure the players don't feel I am always demanding.

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"When we have more days (to prepare), we have more possibilities to give more messages because you can put those messages in a longer period of time. In a brief period, if you give a lot of messages, after the players could be a little bit more fatigued.

"To compete in the Championship you have to be well in the fitness sense but also in the mental sense for professional football."

Centre-forward Eddie Nketiah, fresh from a hat-trick for England Under-21s, replaced Patrick Bamford at half-time on Saturday but can expect to return to the bench in Lancashire, with Bielsa saying: "The team for tomorrow is the same team."