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Leeds suffer big injury blow before FA Cup replay vs Cardiff

Leeds United have been handed a big injury blow before tonight’s FA Cup third-round replay with Cardiff City at Elland Road…

What’s the word?

As revealed by Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Graham Smyth, Whites boss Jesse Marsch is likely to be without Liam Cooper after he suffered a knee injury during Monday’s training session.

The American head coach played down the skipper’s chances of featuring this evening during his pre-game press conference, suggesting that “it’ll be difficult” after the “strange” problem arose out of nowhere.

He’ll now surely join Stuart Dallas and Archie Gray on the longer-term treatment table.

Who should replace Cooper in the starting XI tonight?

WOBER

WOBER

STRUIJK

STRUIJK

LLORENTE

LLORENTE

Big blow before critical cup clash

This will come as worrying news to the under-fire Marsch as he’ll be without one of his trusted leaders for a clash that could put him in the spotlight even more.

The 49-year-old is already looking to end the Yorkshire outfit’s hoodoo in the FA Cup, having narrowly grasped another shot at the fourth round nearly two weeks ago. His side were 2-0 down at the break before a couple of inspired second-half substitutes snatched a replay against the Bluebirds.

When the Scotsman has been available, Marsch has started him. Indeed, Cooper has played full 90-minute games in seven of Leeds’ last eight Premier League outings, but he wasn’t in the squad to face Cardiff last time out.

His absence was clearly missed as a backline including deputising captain Pascal Struijk and Diego Llorente shipped two quick goals to a struggling Championship outfit.

Neither looked convincing enough to start again in west Yorkshire tonight, with the former looking rusty after a large stint at left-back and the latter arguably being at fault for ball-watching for both of the goals.

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WHO IS THE PLAYER?

Cooper, once dubbed a “real leader” among his peers on and off the pitch by journalist Dean Jones, is certainly going to be a big miss in what is a crucial encounter that could well decide the immediate future of the manager, with the Daily Mail recently claiming that transfer plans were on hold due to doubts over Marsch.

The 31-year-old’s experience and leadership could have helped navigate a potential banana skin and cup upset, so you’d imagine that the under-pressure boss is worried about tonight’s prospects as a result of this latest setback.

AND in other news, Bid made: Orta now eyeing “world-class” £26m maestro at Leeds, imagine him & Rodrigo