Scotland manager Steve Clarke has hailed Marcelo Bielsa as the reason behind the improvements seen from Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, as told to The Scotsman.
Kingston upon Hull-born Cooper has featured 43 times under Bielsa across all competitions since the Argentine took charge at Elland Road (TransferMarkt) in the summer of 2018.
Clarke succeeded Alex McLeish as Scotland manager earlier in the year, and has handed Cooper a return to the Tartan Army squad having last made the bench for his country in an international friendly with the Netherlands back in November 2017.
Cooper never made his senior international debut under previous Scotland managers Gordon Strachan or Malky Mackay (TransferMarkt), though Bielsa’s work has put him in line to capitalise on the change in leadership.
Clarke has hailed his Argentine counterpart as being an influence on Cooper’s development, and suggested he could make his long-awaited bow on the international stage in the absence of Aberdeen captain Scott McKenna, who has been ruled out injured.
“Liam is ready, if he is asked to play,” Clarke said. “He has played loads of games in the English Championship at a really good level, working with a really good coach in Marcelo Bielsa. He has been good within the group this week and I’ve enjoyed working with him.”
Cooper certainly enjoyed a strong season working with Bielsa in their first campaign together, as the Whites ace has seen his market value soar in the past year to stand at £4.05m (TransferMarkt) from £900,000 in September 2018.
The 28-year-old was also named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year for the 2018/19 term for his dominant presence alongside Pontus Jansson.
Statistically speaking, Cooper has improved too, with the Hull City product recording the most tackles attempted per 90 minutes of the past four seasons of his career in ’18/19, with as many won that term as he had attempted in his previous best campaign in terms of tackles (WhoScored).
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