Fernandes hoping for Raphinha reunion
Bruno Fernandes is hoping his former Sporting Lisbon team-mate Raphinha is fit to face Manchester United on Sunday but has warned the Leeds United star that there are no friends on the pitch.
Bruno is close pals with the Brazilian, who has proved an inspired signing for the Yorkshiremen and been a revelation during their impressive return to the Premier League.
Although the Reds beat Marcelo Bielsa's side 6-2 at Old Trafford in December, a trip to Elland Road is always difficult and, even without fans inside the stadium, Bruno is aware of the intense rivalry with the side from across the Pennines.
Replying to a question from Sani in Nigeria during last week's interview, Bruno discussed Leeds and Raphinha in particular, as part of a wider fans' Q&A , with the first part to be released on Wednesday morning on the Official App and ManUtd.com.
"So Sani, I know what this means for the fans," explained our no.18. "We talked about that before the first game [at Old Trafford] and, of course, with the fans it can be a really good game and atmosphere, an intense atmosphere over there.
I think every player likes those kind of intense games, the atmosphere would be good with the fans but we have to make it good anyway, without fans.
“About Raphinha, unluckily for Leeds, I think maybe he will still be injured at the time," added Bruno. “I hope not. I hope I can play against him but, if I have to put him down in the game, I will put him down! The relationships stay out of the game. He knows that. He is one of the players who knows me better than anyone. He knows the relationship but even in the training ground, he knows it never counts when we play against each other. If we have to fight in the game, we’ll fight for everything and then go home.
“If there is time to see each other, we will see and we will talk but he knows, in the game, there are no friends at all.”
Leeds extended their unbeaten run to five games with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool on Monday night and, after the match, Bielsa provided an update on Raphinha's injury, which he sustained in the shock 2-1 away win at Manchester City.
"He is in the process of recovery," said the Leeds coach. "We will have to continue evaluating him on a daily basis."
Look out for part one of the fans' Q&A with Bruno Fernandes on Wednesday, with the second instalment due to be published first in the next edition of Inside United, which is out on 11 May.