In a recent post on Twitter, Phil Hay relayed comments made by Jesse Marsch in his pre-match press conference, in which the 48-year-old revealed that Liam Cooper is now a doubt for the trip to Anfield, with the centre-back suffering from a glute injury.
In his tweet, The Athletic journalist said: “Decision also needed on Liam Cooper’s fitness. Another player who might miss Anfield.”
In a further post, Hay went on to state that Rodrigo, Joe Gelhardt, Luis Sinisterra, Leo Fuhr Hjelde and Tyler Adams are also doubts for the meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s side, while both Adam Forshaw and Stuart Dallas remain sidelined.
The journalist continued: “Injury latest from Marsch – injury doubts over Gelhardt, Rodrigo, Sinisterra and Adams. Still being assessed. Dallas and Forshaw missing. Hjelde is a doubt too.”
Considering just how influential Cooper is in the heart of the Leeds defence, the potential absence of the club captain for what would typically be considered one of the most challenging away trips of the season will undoubtedly have come as a huge blow to Marsch – especially when taking into account the further concerns regarding Rodrigo, Gelhardt, Sinisterra, Hjelde and Adams.
Indeed, despite Leeds’ struggles in the league last season, the £6.3m-rated defender was extremely impressive over his 21 Premier League appearances, 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 stopper average a quite remarkable SofaScore match rating of 6.99, ranking him as Marsch’s best-performing outfielder in 2021/22 – playing a key role in his side avoiding relegation from the top flight.
It has been a similar story over the Scotland international’s five league outings in the current campaign, with Cooper having helped Leeds keep one clean sheet, as well as making an average of 2.2 interceptions, 1.8 tackles, 2.6 clearances and winning 5.0 duels – at a success rate of 63% – per game.
As such, while it is true that eighth-placed Liverpool are enduring something of a stuttering start to their 2022/23 campaign, being without the services of Cooper against a team that boasts the likes of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Núñez, Roberto Firmino, Fábio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott in attack will nevertheless come as a huge blow to Leeds’ chances of picking up a result at Anfield.