Leeds captain Liam Cooper could return from injury against Leicester

By Mark Walker, PA
·2-min read

Leeds captain Liam Cooper is back in contention for Monday night’s home Premier League game against Leicester.

Cooper missed last week’s win at Aston Villa due to a groin injury sustained earlier this month while on international duty with Scotland.

The centre-half was named in the starting line-up for the recent home defeat to Wolves, but was withdrawn from the warm-up and Luke Ayling stepped in at Elland Road.

Cooper, centre, played the full 120 minutes for Scotland in their Euro 2020 play-off win against Israel
Cooper, centre, played the full 120 minutes for Scotland in their Euro 2020 play-off win against Israel (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Cooper is fine now, but (Diego) Llorente won’t be fit for this weekend,” said Marcelo Bielsa, who did not confirm whether his skipper would start against Leicester.

“Being able to count on him and to pick him is something that is very good. He is at a very good level, but I haven’t picked a (starting) XI yet.”

Fellow central defender Llorente, signed from Real Sociedad last month, also sustained a groin injury, while on international duty for Spain.

Midfielder Kalvin Phillips is still out after tearing shoulder ligaments against Wolves and is not expected to return until at least the middle of next month.

Philips, right, tore shoulder ligaments in the recent home defeat to Wolves
Kalvin Philips, right, tore shoulder ligaments in the recent home defeat to Wolves (Martin Rickett/PA)

Leeds bounced back from their 1-0 defeat to Wolves in emphatic fashion last Friday, halting Villa’s four-game winning start with a 3-0 win.

Bielsa’s side sit sixth in the table, three points behind leaders Everton, but the Argentinian was in no mood to reflect on their impressive return to the top flight.

“It’s too premature to make conclusions at this moment in time,” Bielsa said.

Leicester, two places above Leeds, have followed up successive league defeats, to West Ham and Aston Villa, with three straight wins.

Last Sunday’s 1-0 success at Arsenal has been sandwiched by Europa League victories over Zorya Luhansk and AEK Athens.

“Leicester are a team who manage the ball well and they have a spirit to attack,” said Bielsa, who will not be compromising his side’s own style to combat the pace of Jamie Vardy.

Vardy has scored six goals in five Premier League appearances this season and was also on target in Thursday’s 2-1 win in Athens.

“Vardy is a very good player, who scores lots of goals and he’s very quick,” Bielsa said.

“Of course we take into account all the characteristics of the opponent’s attackers, but there is not going to be any particular change with that in mind.”