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Leeds fly to Australia for Man United pre-season clash – but Marcelo Bielsa has NOT travelled with squad


Marcelo Bielsa has not travelled with the Leeds United squad for their pre-season match against Manchester United – and will instead fly over on the eve of the clash.

The English rivals meet at Perth’s mammoth Optus Stadium for a glamour friendly on Wednesday, with the Whites then heading further east to take on Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.

Surprisingly, Leeds announced a travelling squad of just 16 players, while the fact manager Bielsa has initially stayed back at base raised further eyebrows.

Bielsa would miss Leeds’ second match in Australia if he decides to return to England after the clash against Man United
Getty Images – Getty

It is understood the Argentine coach has stayed in Yorkshire to ensure new signings and Leeds’ international players – who reported back for pre-season late – are up to speed ahead of the new season.

He is due to arrive in Perth on Tuesday, but no decision has been made on whether he will remain for the match in Sydney or instead fly back to England.

Bielsa could stay in Australia for just 36 hours, but captain Liam Cooper is not worrying about his manager’s movements.

“I think as professionals you’ve just got to do your job,” he said. “You do what you’re told to do and that’s the way it is.

“We’ve got an experienced group out here and Marcelo wants to work with the lads he’s brought in and the lads who came back a bit later.

“They’re sort of doing their fitness work what they missed out on when we were there, so I think it’s all normal to the lads and the lads just get on with it and look forward to it and enjoy it.”

Leeds arrived in Perth on Sunday evening, with bleary-eyed Cooper and Pablo Hernandez facing the media the following morning atop of a skyscraper before heading to training.

Cooper is looking forward to putting their intense pre-season sessions into action against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils at Optus Stadium on Wednesday as they continue preparations for another promotion tilt.

Leeds had been on course for a long-awaited Premier League return last season, only for a memorable campaign to end in disappointment in the play-off semi-final against Derby.

“All the boys are buzzing to be back and buzzing to get going,” Cooper said, reflecting on the 4-2 semi-final second leg loss at Elland Road.

Man United defeated Perth Glory on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford and James Garner scoring
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“Obviously it was a disappointing end to the last season, one we didn’t expect.

“But we dust ourselves down and it gives us a bit more of a burning motivation in our tummies to go and succeed this year.

“It’s different because obviously after the game you go away and you have to deal with it yourself. Obviously we weren’t in training, we weren’t seeing the lads and it was hard work.

“But I think eventually you come to grips with it and it just creates more of a motivation in yourself.

“I can certainly see that in the lads now we’re back in pre-season training that they’ve got that feeling too.”

Leeds beat York in their first pre-season friendly before securing a narrow 2-1 win over Guiseley
Getty Images – Getty

Cooper would love to lead Leeds back to the Premier League in the club’s centenary year, but questions remain over the shape of the squad.

Kalvin Phillips – one of those selected for the trip to Australia – continues to be linked with a big-money summer exit, while centre-back Pontus Jansson has been allowed to join Championship rivals Brentford.

“It’s always a surprise but, at the end of the day, the club has got to do what the club has got to do,” Cooper said of his defensive partner’s departure

“He was a great player to play with, he was a great lad. We just wish him all the best in his new venture.”

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