Speaking in his pre-match press conference (via Leeds Live), Jesse Marsch revealed that, after suffering a setback in his recovery from injury in the 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Barnsley last week and subsequently missing the league fixtures against Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton, Liam Cooper is now back to full fitness – with the American suggesting the centre-back could even be in line for a start at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Speaking about the current condition of the defender, the 48-year-old manager said: “Liam Cooper is probably the closest to being ready to start.”
Considering just how important a part of the Leeds defence Cooper proved himself to be last season, the fact that the Scotland international looks ready to make his first league appearance of the 2022/23 campaign against Brentford is undoubtedly great news for Marsch and his side.
Indeed, over his 21 Premier League fixtures last season, the £6.3m-rated centre-back was imperious in the heart of the Whites’ defence, helping his side keep five clean sheets, as well as making an average of 2.0 interceptions, 2.0 tackles and 3.4 clearances per game.
These metrics saw the £6.5k-per-week 31-year-old average a very impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.99, ranking him as Marsch’s best performing outfielder in 2021/22 – with the defender playing an incredibly crucial role in helping Leeds avoid relegation to the Championship on the final day of the season.
As such, while the Whites have not exactly been leaking goals in the centre-back’s absence – having conceded six over their six appearances in all competitions so far this season – it is nevertheless clear to see that Cooper’s return with come as a huge boost to Leeds’ chances of picking up all three points against Brentford this afternoon.