Marcelo Bielsa wants to keep Eddie Nketiah at Leeds United for next season as well

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Never mind keeping him for the second half of the season, Marcelo Bielsa is already hoping Eddie Nketiah stays at Leeds United for 2020-21 as well.

READ MORE - If Leeds United lose Eddie Nketiah, they will have to look beyond goals for his replacement

Eddie Nketiah is on a season-long loan at Leeds United from Arsenal

Eddie Nketiah is on a season-long loan at Leeds United from Arsenal

The England Under-21 international is on a season-long loan from Arsenal, but with him yet to start a Championship game, there has been some debate about whether the Gunners might recall him during the mid-season transfer window.

Head coach Bielsa hopes to persuade Nketiah and Arsenal it is in their best interests for the 20-year-old to stay even beyond that as a stepping stone to a top Premier League club.

“I hope he will still be here and I hope he wants to stay with us,” said Bielsa. “I think it's important he solidifies his integration into Leeds and it would be good for that if he stays after January and one more year so that he and Leeds are able to show the confidence we're looking for in each other.

“That (returning next season) would be ideal to allow him to be a success at a club, like Leeds.

“It's clear that Leeds consider Nketiah to be a good player for us.

“We're trying to make him feel that Leeds is the proper place for him to develop.

“Obviously we cannot compete with the top teams in the Premier League. What I am sure of is that if Nketiah is a success here in Leeds, his next step is going to be the top Premier League clubs.

“For a human being to triumph, he must feel loved and wanted by everybody. Sometimes time and stability help."

Winger Jack Harrison is in his second season-long loan from Manchester City, and three goals in his last four matches – already equalling his four-goal tally of 2018-19 – suggest a player flourishing under Bielsa's idiosyncratic methods.

And while Bielsa talks about Nketiah moving to a big Premier League club, the ideal will be for Leeds to win promotion this season and be on the road to that status themselves by the summer of 2021.

Nketiah suffered in the first part of the campaign because Bielsa was unconvinced he was a better starting option than Patrick Bamford, despite his goals from the bench and in the League Cup. In Bielsa's possession-based style of play, it is essential that the centre-forward is able to drop deep and bring Leeds's many attacking midfielders into the game, and this is something Bamford is better at.

Nketiah seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough when Bielsa said after October's 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday he had seen signs the youngster could do that job for the team, but before he was given the chance to back that up from the start, he suffered an injury in training, and has not played since.

This week he returned to training, and he is scheduled to face Sheffield United's Under-23s at Thorp Arch on Friday, a first step towards returning to the senior side.

“He has trained well, probably tomorrow (Friday) he's going to play a part in the Under-23s,” Bielsa revealed.

“Maybe he needs a while to be ready for the first team, I'm not sure. But that would be normal.”

Tyler Roberts will also miss Saturday's Championship visit of Middlesbrough after injuring his hamstring in Tuesday's 1-0 win at Reading.

“He's making some progress but he can't play this weekend,” said the head coach. “The medical staff are analysing the situation.”

There remains no timescale for Adam Forshaw's return.

“He's not ready yet," said Bielsa. "I can't say when he's going to be back.

“It's a process where we control him daily through the medical staff and at the moment we don't have more information."