Stuart Dallas could return as Leeds United weigh up match fitness of returning trio

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Leeds United have Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper and Jamie Shackleton fit ahead of Saturday's trip to Luton Town, but now Marcelo Bielsa must decide if they are match-ready.

Ezgjan Alioski is fit again, and Eddie Nketiah is due back in training next week, but with a busy schedule ahead, the head coach must strike the right balance with Dallas, Cooper and Shackleton.

Stuart Dallas has recovered from a hamstring strain suffered playing for Northern Ireland against the Netherlands

Stuart Dallas has recovered from a hamstring strain suffered playing for Northern Ireland against the Netherlands

When Dallas missed Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany with a hamstring strained in Saturday's game with the Netherlands there were fears the utility man might be out for a few weeks, but judging by Bielsa's assessment, it would be a surprise if he did not take his place in the line-up at Kenilworth Road.

Cooper pulled out of the Scotland squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan with another groin problem, having just returned from three October matches out with a similar problem, so while the captain is back in training, Bielsa says he must assess if the central defender is ready for the rigours of 90 minutes of Championship football. The same is true of midfielder Jamie Shackleton, who has been missing with different muscle injuries lately.

“Dallas is healthy,” declared the Argentinian. “Cooper is healthy as well, but we have to see (if he can play). We don't know if he's going to play but maybe.

“With Shackleton, it's the same situation as Cooper, healthy – but longer since he last played so we have to see how long it's going to take him to be ready to complete.”

Cooper went off injured in the televised game against West Bromwich Albion at the start of last month, but had a reserve-team run-out, a substitute's appearance and two starts before his latest minor setback. Shackleton has not featured at all since the West Brom game.

In explaining Nketiah's situation, Bielsa also outlined the thinking he will go through with the returning trio. Centre-forward Nketiah, on loan from Arsenal, picked up an injury in training after the 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on October 26.

“Nketiah is not ready yet,” said Bielsa. “Next week he's going to start to work with the group.

“He's training at the moment but it's different training to training with the group. When he does that that it's necessary to consider how long since he last trained.

“Dallas played five days ago and Cooper 12 days ago so they are different situations to Eddie. Once Eddie starts to train with the group he will work to be ready to compete (for a place). It's one thing being healthy, another thing being match-fit.”

The game at Luton is the first of 10 in 39 days for Leeds. They are at Reading on Tuesday, then host Middlesbrough the following Saturday.

Pablo Hernandez is in line to make his first start since late September at the end of a week which saw the 34-year-old sign a contract which will keep him at Elland Road until 2022. Bielsa thinks it is fitting reward for a creative player whose powers show no sign of waning.

“The contract extension is deserved because he's had a big impact on the team, all the supporters recognise that and value him,” said the coach. “He's respected by his team-mates, and by me.

“I don't like to imagine something that hasn't happened yet but if tomorrow Pablo had to play in the Premier League, he could do it no problem.”