The 29-year-old midfielder, dogged by a career-threatening hip injury and subsequent setbacks since September 2019, slotted seamlessly back into Bielsa’s starting line-up before being replaced after an hour.
Bielsa said: “Forshaw is very well prepared, he has sacrificed a lot and progressively, if he keeps healthy and acquires the competition rhythm, he has all the virtues to become a player that can shine.
“He was going to play between 45 minutes and an hour and he could handle the rhythm of the game, so we are satisfied.”
Bielsa was not so impressed by his side’s finishing against Sky Bet League One opponents Crewe at a sold-out Elland Road.
Leeds had 28 shots on goal, but Dave Artell’s side were not breached until the 79th minute when Kalvin Phillips turned home Jack Harrison’s corner at the near post.
Harrison capped another eye-catching individual display with two goals in the final five minutes.
Phillips wore the skipper’s armband in the absence of Liam Cooper as Bielsa made six changes and the England midfielder’s opener was met by a roar of relief from the home faithful in a crowd of 34,154.
“Kalvin was the captain because he was chosen by his team-mates,” Bielsa added. “For the team, he is a reference and he is also for the public.”
Crewe came into the tie on the back of three straight league defeats, but boss Artell said his side could not have given him more.
“My players were terrific in their application and what we asked of them,” he said. “They showcased what they are capable of.
“We’ve had a tough start to the season. We’ve been up and down the country. To Hartlepool in the last round, to Portsmouth, to Oxford. Every game it seems is an away game.
“So we’re sort of used to coming on our travels and I thought we gave a good account of ourselves.”
Artell said his only frustration had been the manner in which Leeds had made their late breakthrough.
“The most disappointing thing for me was the first goal came from a set-piece,” he added. “It’s so disappointing, 11 minutes away from the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
“So to conceded from a set-piece is really disappointing – for the players, that’s the main thing – but we’ll lick our wounds and go again.”
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