In recent comments cited by Leeds Live, Jesse Marsch revealed that, despite having returned to training this week after picking up an Achilles injury earlier in the summer, the centre-back will not be available for the visit of Bruno Lage’s side for the Whites’ 2022/23 curtain raiser this weekend.
Regarding the current condition of the 30-year-old, the American manager said: “Liam Cooper has had an Achilles issue from his off-season programme from running on a treadmill.
“It’s taken him a long time to get back into training but this week he has been on the pitch doing individual work, finally. He will not be available this weekend but we’re hopeful that by next week he will be in team training.”
Considering just how important Cooper was for the Whites last season, the news that the defender has now been officially ruled out of the club’s first Premier League fixture of the season is sure to have come as a hefty blow to Marsch.
Indeed, over his 21 Premier League appearances last time out, the £6.3m-rated centre-back was in imperious in the heart of the Leeds’ defence, helping the Whites keep five clean sheets, as well as making an average of 2.0 interceptions, 2.0 tackles, 3.4 clearances and winning 6.4 duels – at a success rate of 64% – per game.
That meant Cooper ended the campaign with the second-highest number of tackles compared to centre-backs at Leeds last season while he topped the tree for interceptions a match, demonstrating just how important he is.
These returns saw the Scotland international average a highly impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.99, ranking him as Marsch’s best performing outfielder in the top flight of English football in 2021/22.
As such, it is clear to see just how big of a miss Cooper will be for the club’s opening fixture of the new season, with Marsch now being left with something of a headache at centre-back for the visit of Wolves.