Marcelo Bielsa refuses to rule Raphinha out of Leeds’ trip to Southampton

Marcelo Bielsa has not ruled Raphinha out of Saturday’s Premier League game at Southampton despite his involvement with Brazil.

Raphinha is reportedly poised to make his first start for Brazil in the early hours of Friday morning against Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier.

The 24-year-old faces a 36-hour turnaround to join Bielsa’s side who travel to face the Saints on Saturday afternoon but the Leeds boss says Raphinha could still be in contention to feature in the league game.


Marcelo Bielsa refuses to rule Brazilian Raphinha (left) out of Leeds’ game on Saturday 

The 24-year-old could make his first start for Brazil in the early hours of Friday morning

‘There is no doubt that it’s a short turnaround,’ Bielsa said. ‘The options he has to participate in the game on Saturday depends on whether he plays this final game tonight, how many minutes he plays, how he finishes the game after participating in it and how efficient his rest in the next 36 hours is.

‘Considering that a third of those hours he will spend on a flight and if there is any risk that fatigue could cause injuries, then we won’t risk it.

‘There are so many aspects to consider that I can’t offer you any certainty either way.’

Although the government’s quarantine rules have been relaxed to allow players to train and play on their return from ‘red list’ countries while they isolate, some South American Premier League players face tight turnarounds to be able to play in their teams’ fixtures this weekend.

Marcelo Bielsa (left) admits it will be a tight turnaround but insists the winger has options 


Several Premier League sides have chartered a private jet to ensure that their South American players are back for the weekend. 

Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Leeds and Aston Villa are understood to be involved in clubbing together for an aircraft costing six figures to carry international players.

Nine top-flight representatives from Brazil and Uruguay will take off immediately after their World Cup qualifier in Manaus, scheduled to kick off on Friday at 1:30am UK time.

Raphinha is among those expected to fly back on the chartered jet along with United’s Edinson Cavani and Fred, City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus and Liverpool pair Alisson and Fabinho.

Gabriel Jesus will be hoping to play for Manchester City 37 and a half hours after Brazil’s game

Fabinho (left) and Fred are among nine top-flight stars called up for the World Cup qualifiers

Chelsea’s Thiago Silva and Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa are also travelling home and the possibility of arranging two flights, splitting the group up based on where their clubs will be playing on Saturday, has been discussed.

Spurs intend to fly their quartet – Argentina’s Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, Colomba’s Davinson Sanchez and Brazilian Emerson Royal – also by private jet ahead of Sunday’s trip to newly taken over Newcastle.

Any flights will be socially distanced with passengers all wearing masks.

Giovani Lo Celso (right) and his Spurs team-mates will be on a separate jet back to England

The Premier League clubs originally were hoping their stars could be withdrawn prematurely from this fortnight’s games in order to return in time for the season’s resumption. 

But their hopes were dashed as Brazil followed Argentina by confirming their Premier League players would not be allowed to return to England from international duty early.

Brazil head coach Tite said: ‘There was never that possibility [of them returning to England early]. They were called up for the three games.’ 

Brazil boss Tite said there was never any chance of his stars returning to England prematurely

Bielsa confirmed that Patrick Bamford remains absent due to the ankle injury which has kept him out of the last two Premier League games.

Kalvin Phillips ‘has a chance’ of being available, Bielsa said, after the midfielder withdrew from the England squad last week due to a calf strain.

Bielsa also revealed Germany defender Robin Koch – sidelined since the opening-day defeat at Manchester United – is currently in America to undergo a minor procedure to resolve a troublesome pelvis problem.

Luke Ayling continues to recover from a small knee operation, but Jack Harrison, Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw and Crysencio Summerville are all in contention.

Forward Patrick Bamford (right) remains absent for Leeds’s weekend game with an ankle issue