Eddie Nketiah’s wait for his Championship debut is set to go on, with Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa unconvinced the youngster did enough to force his way into the starting line-up XI for tonight’s trip to Preston North End.
The on-loan Arsenal striker came on for Patrick Bamford at half-time in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Birmingham City, and produced a “similar” performance.
Bielsa has already announced his team will be unchanged for the game at Deepdale, despite Nketiah pushing his case for selection with a hat-trick against Austria while on international duty with England Under-21s.
Leeds have only scored four goals in the last five matches, but Bielsa is resisting calls for Bamford and Nketiah to play together, and did not see enough from the 20-year-old at the weekend to convince him that he should get the nod as the lone centre-forward.
“The performances of Bamford and Nketiah were quite similar, we played better in the first half than in the second one,” said Bielsa, who felt that worked against the younger man. “When the team plays better, the centre-forward takes advantage of those situations.
“Nketiah has played in the moment where the team decreased a little bit in performance and playing in those conditions is a little bit more difficult, trying to make an impact.
I have to say how they played. For me, both of them played quite similar, at the same level.Marcelo Bielsa on his striking options
“I have to say how they played. For me, both of them played quite similar, at the same level.”
Nketiah’s two starts this season have come in the League Cup and he has scored in both, in addition to two goals from the bench in the league.
Former Middlesbrough striker Bamford has not scored in his last seven appearances, after opening the campaign with four in six. He is an ever-present in the Championship this season.
Victory will send Leeds top of the table if struggling Barnsley can take something from their game at leaders West Bromwich Albion. Victory for Preston would see them leapfrog the Whites, who go into the game in second place.
Last six games: Preston North End WLDDWL; Leeds United WDLWLW.
Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).
Last time: Preston North End 0 Leeds United 2, April 9, 2019, Championship.