Noel Whelan says the return of Liam Cooper for Leeds United is ‘massive’ after Phil Hay revealed that he was meant to only play the first half versus Crawley.
Speaking to Football Insider about the reveal from Hay, the former Elland Road striker was asked as to whether it was a big boost for the Scotland international to get those extra minutes in his legs, to which he said:
“Yes, absolutely. He’s the club captain and we’ve been struggling for centre-halves.
“He’s one of those players who is a leader out there on the field and one of the players you get the most consistency out of.
“So to see him back is massive news, especially when you’ve got Brighton and Southampton coming up and you need natural defenders and leaders out there in the Premier League games.
“It will be nice to have him back and I’m guessing with Luke Ayling (at centre-back).
“I’m not sure how far Diego Llorente is off but he’s been training and wasn’t ready for yesterday’s game. He could be another player that could be included in the squad for the Brighton match giving him another week of fitness and making sure he’s 100 per cent right for the game.”
Cooper return is ‘massive’ for Leeds
As Whelan rightfully points out, the return of Cooper for Marcelo Bielsa’s team is ‘massive’ for the Yorkshire club.
Where will Leeds finish in the Premier League?
The Whites have conceded a mammoth 33 goals in just 17 games in the Premier League so far in the 2020/21 term, the second most in the division behind West Brom (39) (Sky Sports).
Being the club’s captain, Cooper can certainly get them more organised on the pitch and be harder to beat, and his stats so far in the top flight are representative of that.
The central defender has won no fewer than 8.3 of his duels a game in the EPL, and has also averaged three clearances, 2.6 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per match (Sofascore).
His ability as well as his leadership skills could be crucial for LUFC going forward in order to assure that they finish as high up in the league as possible going into the final few months of the season.
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