In a recent interview with GIVEMESPORT, O’Rourke stated his belief that the return of both Patrick Bamford and Liam Cooper – who both featured from the off in a 6-2 Premier League 2 victory over Southampton for the club’s U21s last week – will come as a big boost to Jesse Marsch ahead of the Whites’ upcoming meeting with Aston Villa in nine days’ time.
Regarding the duo, the journalist said: “Getting those players some minutes under the belts will come as a massive boost for Marsch who has had a few injury problems that were starting to hit the squad in the last couple of weeks as well.”
As O’Rourke suggests, the return to full fitness of both Bamford and Cooper is undoubtedly great news for Marsch, as both players are undoubtedly an incredibly important part of the 48-year-old’s senior squad.
Indeed, while Cooper has not featured in the Premier League this season as a result of several injury set-backs, the £6.3m-rated centre-back proved how crucial he is over his 21 league fixtures in 2021/22, helping the Whites keep five clean sheets, in addition to 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.
These returns saw the £6.5k-per-week Scotland international average an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.99, ranking him as Leeds’ best performing outfielder last time out – with his displays during the Whites’ run in, in particular, playing a key role in helping his side avoid relegation to the Championship on the final day of the 2021/22 campaign.
Meanwhile, despite Bamford having started just nine Premier League matches since the start of last season, the £12.6m-rated forward also proved over his 38 league fixtures in 2020/21 just how effective he can be when fully fit, scoring 17 goals, registering seven assists and creating five big chances, as well as taking an average of 2.8 shots and making 0.8 key passes per game.
These returns saw the £35k-per-week England international average a simply sensational SofaScore match rating of 7.01, ranking him as the Whites’ joint seventh-best performer in the top flight that year – with his 17 goal-haul seeing him finish joint fourth – alongside last season’s joint Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min – in the Premier League top scorers in 2020/21.
As such, it is clear to see that the return of this duo ahead of the Aston Villa meeting will indeed come as a massive boost to Marsch, who will undoubtedly be hoping to put the disappointment of a 5-2 defeat to Brentford last time out behind him with a significantly improved performance and result when Steven Gerrard’s side visit Elland Road at the start of next month.