Liam Cooper is ‘irreplaceable’ in the Leeds United team, that is according to their former player Noel Whelan.
The centre-back picked up a groin injury in the Whites’ 1-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion recently, which the club said would keep him out for up to six weeks.
Since then Leeds have played once and without their skipper they fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Millwall at the Den.
His absence was certainly felt in that game, and Whelan believes that losing the Scottish international is a major blow for the Elland Road club.
Speaking to Football Insider, the former striker said: “Cooper is a massive loss, losing him is a huge blow to Leeds. He is not only the club captain and an outstanding defender but he gives Leeds balance because he is the only left footed centre-back at the club.
“He is irreplaceable. You are losing his height, aerial prowess and leadership, as well as the continuity of his partnership with Ben White.
“He can also turn defence into attack with one cross field pass. We have seen time and again the quality of his long-range passing, and that’s a major asset to lose.”
There is no doubting that losing Cooper is huge for Leeds. After all he is their captain, a leader on the pitch and they are a better team when he plays.
You only have to look back at last season. When he missed a few games through injury back then they lost vital fixtures against Nottingham Forest, Hull City and Wigan Athletic which ultimately cost the club automatic promotion.
His replacement, Gaetano Berardi, is too erratic and unreliable. Indeed, he was sent off after just 14 minutes against Millwall and whilst it was a harsh call, it is the eighth time he has been dismissed in his Leeds career which shows that he is not the composed head at the back a promotion-chasing team needs.
Now that he is suspended, pending an appeal, it means that the West Yorkshire side are incredibly light at centre-back. Having sold Pontus Jansson in the summer Ben White is now their only natural option in that position, so Marcelo Bielsa will have to figure out who to play there for the time being.
It is far from an ideal time to lose Cooper, and without him the Leeds promotion charge may well falter.
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Leeds fans, how much of an impact do you think losing Liam Cooper to injury will have? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!