Leeds United were already reeling with injuries at the back as the likes of Luke Ayling, and Gaetano Berardi were ruled out with an injury. Pontus Jansson has also missed a few games here and there for the same reason.
To make matters even worse, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas have now been ruled out for six weeks. Both of them suffered an injury during their win against Sheffield United, and now we have a confirmation (according to BBC Sports) that the duo could be out for six weeks.
The squad is already thin, and various youngsters like William Huffer, Jamie Shackleton, Jack Clarke, Aapo Halme etc. had to come in to fill in the different positions in the starting lineup. The right-back position especially seems to be cursed as Stuart Dallas is currently the third right back the Whites have lost as Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi got injured earlier (The latter is a right back who has played as a centre-half, for the most part, this season).
Pontus Jansson is the only senior centre-half available, and the Whites probably need to wrap him in cotton ahead of the upcoming games as they would hope that at least he could come out of the next few fixtures unscathed. Finnish defender Aapo Halme should get the nod in the centre back role as he was impressive in the game against Sheffield United. However, the Whites should be prepared for some defensive errors given his inexperience.
For the right-back position, we believe Jamie Shackleton is likely to get a chance. However, Shackleton has only played a few games as a right back before and he filled in that spot almost as an emergency in the tie against Swansea City earlier when Liam Cooper had to pull out at the last moment due to injury and Luke Ayling was pushed into the centre back role.
The Whites have opened up a 4 point gap from the third spot, and they should want to carry on the momentum which they have gathered after their humiliating loss to West Bromwich Albion before the international break. It seems like more than the opponents; the injury gods are testing the West Yorkshire outfit and going in with so many makeshift players especially at the back, can cause havoc.
On the injuries front, things could not be much worse, and the Whites’ promotion hopes hang in the balance as most of the first team defensive members are out for a lengthy period. With the festive time approaching, fixtures are going to come thick and fast and Bielsa will have to adapt and find out a way to solve the problem at the back.