An injury expert has now dropped a big Leeds United claim involving Liam Cooper.
The Lowdown: Hay update
Taking to Twitter before their game away at Leicester City at lunchtime, The Athletic’s ever-reliable Phil Hay revealed that Cooper is not currently available, but is making ‘good progress’ for an eventual return.
Should Leeds start Cooper?
This comes after now former manager Marcelo Bielsa claimed to the The Yorkshire Evening Post that he did not think that Cooper would be back by early March.
The captain has not played for the Elland Road faithful since December after having to come off injured in the 2-2 draw at home to Brentford, and they had only managed a mere two wins in the Premier League since before they played the Foxes (Transfermarkt).
The Latest: Dinnery reacts
Speaking to Football Insider, Ben Dinnery, who runs the Premier Injuries website and has a background in both medicine and data analysis, has now given his reaction to the news, claiming that mid-March is now a ‘realistic’ timeframe for Cooper’s return, after initially thinking that he was going to be out for ‘three months’:
“We always thought it was going to be around three months but I think that mid-March is realistic now.
“Just because you’re back training, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to be part of the first team. It can actually be a bit of a red herring.
“There are lots of exercises to complete and hoops you need to jump through before you get to that stage.
“Leeds need Cooper to be ready when he does come back. If it adds a few weeks on the timeline for the sake of not rushing him, it’ll be worth it.
“There is that international break coming up, which can affect the situation. I would have thought he would be back in the matchday squad before then.
“Decisions will be player-led. He is a professional and he will want to go out and arrest the slide that Leeds are on.”
The Verdict: Big
It will certainly be big for the Yorkshire club if Cooper can return midway through this month, especially before the international break.
They have Aston Villa at home in their next match in the top flight, before hosting Norwich City and then taking a trip away to Wolves.
Cooper will be vital for his leadership and organisation qualities as captain, in a side so low on confidence after boasting the worst defensive record in the division.
Nonetheless, Jesse Marsch will no doubt want to get off to a good start at the Whites, and Cooper would certainly help him achieve that.
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