Leeds United's Raphinha uncertainty continues but Marcelo Bielsa insists it is no 'difficulty'

Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa gave his pre-match press conference at 1pm on Friday, still not knowing if his Brazilian winger Raphinha will be allowed to face Liverpool on Sunday.

But shortly after his opposite number Jurgen Klopp voiced his dissatisfaction about the uncertainty, Bielsa downplayed its impact on the Whites, who will have fellow winger Dan James available to make his debut.

Raphinha is one of 11 Premier League players suspended from this weekend's matches after their clubs refused to release them to play in countries on the Government's red list. Had they done so, they players would have had to isolate for 10 days, as it is they are banned for five.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Liverpool's Alisson and Fabinho are also affected, whilst Roberto Firmino picked up an injury playing for Brazil.

UNCERTAINTY: Leeds United winger RaphinhaUNCERTAINTY: Leeds United winger Raphinha
UNCERTAINTY: Leeds United winger Raphinha

Everton's Richarlison has been excused by Brazil because he played in this summer's Copa America and Olympics, whilst some other countries have not asked FIFA to implement the rule on their behalf, preferring to maintain good relations.

Raphinha was set to make his Brazil debut in the September games.

There are further World Cup qualifiers scheduled for October and November, with Conmebol trying to clear the backlog after some of last season's games were postponed to try to avoid similar situations then. The World Cup is being played in Qatar in December 2022.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The punishment for disobeying FIFA's ban is for the opposition to be awarded a 3-0 win but it is unclear what would happen if Leeds and Liverpool both did that at Elland Road on Sunday.

Bielsa agreed with Klopp that the players have been caught in the middle of a difficult situation but added: "It wasn't a difficulty to prepare for the game and the position on whether he plays will depend on what the club transmits to me."

Despite a collective agreement by Premier League and Football League clubs not to release players to play in red-listed countries, four English-based Argentinian travelled to their World Cup qualifier against Brazil, which was anyway abandoned amid farcical scenes surrounding their failure to quarantine on arrival.

Klopp commented: "We did nothing. We didn't organise the Copa America, we are not responsible for the games they couldn't have played.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We didn't invite players (to play for their country), we didn't say when they come back there's no exemption. We all didn't do that.

"But in the end the only (people) who get punished are the players and the clubs - and we have nothing to do with the whole organisation around."

Bielsa confirmed James will be available on Sunday. He has been with the Wales squad since completing his £25m move from Manchester United on deadline day.

Stuart Dallas is available having missed the international break for "personal reasons" and Junior Firpo and Mateusz Klich have recovered from the Covid-19 which caused them to miss the game at Burnley.

Robin Koch is still missing with a pelvic injury.