Leeds United climbed back above promotion rivals Sheffield United back into second on Tuesday night – at least until the Blades play on Wednesday – with a victory over Preston North End, with star man Pablo Hernandez a surprise starter.

The Spaniard looked to be a serious doubt for their midweek outing after picking up a minor injury blow but he not only started the clash but played the full 90 minutes, much to the delight of the Elland Road faithful and manager Marcelo Bielsa.

However, was the Argentine coach taking a risk on playing him so soon after his problems? According to Bielsa himself, yes.

Why take the gamble?

Speaking after Tuesday’s game, the man in the dugout revealed that neither he nor the medical team at Leeds United were entirely sure with how he would hold up when playing, revealing he only made himself available on the morning of the clash.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Phil Hay: “We didn’t know (how he would cope). He was waiting until warming up previous to the game. But from this morning he started to make us feel that he was well.”

It is easy to understand why Bielsa took the risk. Hernandez is one of the best players he has at his disposal and his influence is second to none out on the pitch, but considering that there are still plenty of games to play, losing him for the rest of the season would have been an absolute disaster and would have put their promotion hopes in serious danger.

At 33-years-old, he is not going to recover as easily or as quickly as someone 10 years younger and he needs to manage his body carefully – one serious setback could quite easily bring the curtain down on his career.

What next?

Having overcome a situation which could have ended in tears, it does not seem as though Bielsa is willing to play it safe between now and the final match of the campaign. Kemar Roofe is coming back from injury so expect to see him brought back into the cut and thrust of things sooner rather than later, while any future doubts will be dealt with on an individual basis.

It was a risky roll of the dice from Bielsa that just happened to pay off. Will he be so lucky next time? Watch this space.