This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has revealed it is unlikely that club captain Liam Cooper is fit enough to play Hull City at Elland Road on Tuesday night.
The 28-year-old was a key absentee alongside Kalvin Phillips against Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon as the Whites secured a 2-0 victory away from home.
It was their sixth successive win and 11th clean sheet of the season, per WhoScored, meaning they regained temporary control at the top of the Championship table with nearest challengers West Bromwich Albion playing later this afternoon.
In his post-match press conference, Bielsa was asked if he believed they struggled to cope in the absence of the influential duo and whether or not his skipper would be returning anytime soon, he said:
“No. It wasn’t about the lack of players. Berardi had to replay Cooper and he had a good game. Alioski did well too. White was in the function of Phillips and the rest of the team was the same players. We resolved the absence.
“Today it could have been a risk if he played. I don’t think this situation will change for Tuesday so we will see for next Saturday.”
Given this update, it seems likely that Leeds’ backline is going to be somewhat makeshift once again.
Phillips will no doubt walk back into the starting line up having served his one-match suspension so that will allow Brighton loanee Ben White back into the heart of the defence.
However, the position next to him will surely go to one of Gaetano Berardi or Luke Ayling as the pair managed to keep a clean sheet against the Terriers.
Both players are full-backs by trade so it is far from ideal with Bielsa practically writing off Cooper’s return until next Saturday’s game against Cardiff City.
One option could be youngster Oliver Casey after he was handed his first-team debut with a five-minute cameo at the end of the match, fans have certainly been hyping him up since then.