Kavlin Phillips has missed the last four maaches with a calf injury, Rodrigo the last six with a groin problem, and Pascal Struijk went off injured in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa.
Normally quite open about injuries, Bielsa seemed bruised by some of the reaction when he named his starting XI for the reverse fixture against West Ham in mid-December, and has been notably more reticent since, so all he would say about Friday's under-23 game was that ““Some players who are coming back from injury will be playing in the game.”
On whether Struijk would be involved at the London Stadium, he trotted out his stock but understandable line: “I insist it all depends on how they (the injured players) evolve between now and Monday.”
He did, though, confirm centre-back Berardi is due to play 45 minutes, as he did on Monday. That was his first football since injuring his knee ligaments late last season.
“After sicx months without playing he managed to play 45 minutes and on Friday he will play another 45 minutes but after six months of absence you have to see how he feels after every game,” said Bielsa when asked about his recovery. “Some players recover their form immediately and others need a little bit more time.”
Midfielder Adam Forshaw has not played since September 2019 as a result of a problem which required hip surgery.
“He's in a positive moment in his recovery but that positive moment has to be extended for a while longer without any setbacks for this to allow him to return to competitive football,” commented on Bielsa. “What is true is that he works tirelessly and continuously and makes the maximum efforts to come back and play.
“When he is healthy he has great qualities.”
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