RECORD signing Rodrigo is hoping for a return to Premiership action with Leeds United at West Ham tonight (8pm).

The £27million Spanish international has missed the last six Premier Leaue games with a calf problem but staked his claim for a slot in the squad against the high-flying Hammers by scoring both goals in last Friday’s 2-0 win for the Under-23s at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

That match was watched by coach Marcelo Bielsa as Rodrigo played 45 minutes along with Gaetano Beradi and Ian Poveda, who were also getting much-needed playing time under their belts after injury.

Defender Beradi has not played in the first team since the penultimate game of last season because of cruciate ligament damage while Poveda has been absent with an ankle problem for a few weeks.

Having been out for so long, Beradi is unlikely to feature at the London Stadium as he concentrates on building up his fitness but Poveda and Rodrigo could well find themselves in the matchday squad.

It had been a spluttering start to life at Elland Road for Rodrigo who has only started a dozen games. At the beginning of the season it took him a few weeks to get up to the fitness standard required by the demanding Bielsa and then tested positive for Covid-19 which sidelined him for a few more games.

He last played in the Premiership in the 3-1 win at Leicester on New Year’s Eve when he went off after 20 minutes.

Bielsa will need as many of his senior players as possible as he seeks to end the Whites’ appalling record in London. They have only won one in their last 25 visits to the capital and their return to the top flight this season has seen them lose 4-1 at Crystal Palace, 3-1 at Chelsea, 3-0 at Tottenham and 4-2 at Arsenal.

With doubts lingering about the fitness of Kalvin Phillips, Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton, Bielsa may not have many options when it comes to selecting his midfield against a West Ham side who harbour genuine hopes of a top-four finish, something they have not achieved since 1985/86.

Although David Moyes’ side lost 2-1 last time out at runaway leaders Manchester City, they have been in sparkling form in February beating Tottenham 2-1, Sheffield United 3-0 and Aston Villa 3-1 as well as picking up a point in a goalless draw at Fulham.

In contrast to Leeds’ continual shuffling in midfield, West Ham have a stable partnership in Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, who have played every minute of league football this season.

Soucek was a scorer in the Hammers’ impressive 2-1 victory at Elland Road in December when both the visitors’ goals were headers from set pieces. Defending dead-ball situations has been a major weakness for Leeds this season and Moyes’ tall and muscular side are experts at making the most of their corners and free kicks.

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski missed the defeat at Manchester City with an elbow injury but is expected to face Leeds despite not having trained last week. The Polish international’s stand-in at the Etihad, Darren Randolph, finished that game with a hip problem.

Definitely missing for the Hammers will be central defender Angelo Ogbonna, who scored the winner at Elland Road, defender Arthur Masuaku and attacker Angelo Ogbonna.