Former manager Alex McLeish has recently issued his concerns about Leeds United’s experienced central defender Liam Cooper, hoping Marcelo Bielsa will not rush him back too soon.
Cooper has been at Leeds since the summer of 2014, when the Scotsman joined the Elland Road-based club from Chesterfield. During his time at the club, Leeds have climbed the tiers of English football.
McLeish issues fitness concern about Cooper
McLeish was talking to Football Insider about Cooper’s recent fitness issues and injury problems. The former manager believes that the Scotsman is able to return quickly from injuries due to his experience, but raised concerns over his adjustment to the top flight. McLeish believes it could ‘prove costly’ for Cooper and the club if he is rushed back, in what is of course a major concern for Bielsa given the injury troubles he has in defence.
Should Cooper's fitness be a concern for Bielsa?
“If he’s ready to go back in after a wee period out, if his fitness hasn’t been disrupted too much then he can come straight back in. He’s a very experienced player and experienced players tend to kind of slot back in quicker than most because they know the game, the insides of the whole team, the telepathy-type thing.
“The worry is that he’s not up to speed, he’s not up to the speed of the Premier League and he takes a game or two to get back to his level.
“Being a defender, you know if you’re not back to your level right away then it could prove costly but I would hope Bielsa’s bringing him back because he’s fully fit.”
Cooper has made 11 Premier League appearances this season and also scored in the club’s 6-2 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford. The defender has missed a few games due to injury though and wasn’t in the club’s squad in the last three games (as per Transfermarkt).
Recently, BBC’s Adam Pope has revealed that there’s a chance that Cooper could return to Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the upcoming FA Cup clash against Crawley Town.
Cooper is still crucial for Leeds
In the current Premier League campaign, the 29-year-old Cooper has picked up a pretty good rating of 7.01. He has been the club’s third-best player in the Premier League as a result (as per Whoscored).
In the Championship campaign last season, Cooper had played 38 league games and had scored twice. He picked up a rating of 7.11 during that period and also picked up very good ratings in the 2018/19 Championship season (as per Whoscored).
This consistency over such a long period of time makes him an important player for the Whites and having him back fit would be a boost for Bielsa.
In other news, Deco has hailed a Leeds star – read more about it here.
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