Leeds United ambassador Noel Whelan has bemoaned the hamstring injuries picked up by Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips, describing it as ‘really bad news’ for the club.
The Lowdown: Leeds pair out injured
The Whites have been plagued by injuries throughout the season, which has no doubt played a part in what has been a disappointing campaign to date.
Cooper and Phillips are two of the most high-profile current absentees and, as revealed by Marcelo Bielsa on Friday, the duo are not expected to be back in action until March, which comes as a huge blow to Leeds.
While relegation should still be avoided, not having those two key figures available could make life difficult, and results must start improving in the coming weeks if they are to avoid an uncomfortable run-in to the campaign.
The Latest: Whelan reacts to news
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan couldn’t hide his frustration at the news that Cooper and Phillips face another couple of months on the sidelines. He rued:
“The injuries looked so innocuous. Usually with a hamstring if you’re not jumping in the air and hitting the clouds, it could just be a tiny tear which could take as little as four weeks.
“But this is really bad news for Leeds United because they are two big players. Phillips, who is one of the best defensive midfield players in the Premier League and is vitally important to how we play. He’s irreplaceable in there.
“And then Cooper is the club captain, and that presence will be missed sorely in the dressing room. You can’t take away the importance of what he gives you in there. It’s like Jordan Henderson at Liverpool – you miss those types of voices.”
The Verdict: Big battle without them
This is a massive couple of months for Leeds, with fringe players simply having to step up to the plate without Cooper and Phillips around. The former has been the Whites’ second-best performer this term as per WhoScored, while the latter boasts one of the highest tackling averages (2.3 per game) within the squad.
Phillips is going to be a particular miss, considering the sparsity of midfield alternatives and the fact that he is England’s reigning Player of the Year, highlighting how talented player he has become.
A new midfielder may well be needed to be brought in this month to help fill the void, whereas fit-again Diego Llorente and Robin Koch will hopefully forge a strong centre-back pairing without club captain Cooper around. For now, it’s easy to see why Whelan is so worried.
In other news, one Leeds player is set to leave the club this summer. Find out who it is here.
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