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Leeds United captain Liam Cooper remains touch and go to see whether he can take his place in the side to take on Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Whites skipper has recently returned from a long-standing hamstring issue, his return to the side leading to an improved run of results. However, after hobbling off down the tunnel during the warm-up before the game with Manchester City, Cooper was ruled out with a knee injury.
That saw Leeds lose their unbeaten five-game run, with Premier League champions City running out 4-0 winners at Elland Road.
And United boss Jesse Marsch now faces a nervous wait to see if Cooper can return to the side against Arsenal on Sunday.
Leeds desperately need the points as they battle to stay in the Premier League. They sit just two points clear of the drop zone with Everton, in 18th, having a game in hand.
Their predicament has escalated with Burnley claiming four wins in the last few weeks. Having won just three times all season before April 6, few saw the Clarets’ incredible run of form.
It all heaps ‘massive pressure’ on Leeds, with The Athletic’s Phil Hay assessing where it’s all gone wrong for United.
The return of Cooper to the side on Sunday would certainly give everyone a huge lift.
He now face a scan later to assess just how serious the problem is.
And while Leeds are yet to pass on any information, Marsch appeared optimistic when questioned after the City defeat.
Pundit talks up Liam Cooper qualities
When asked if it caused disruption, Marsch admitted: “It did a little bit but we were able to adjust quickly. Not ideal to lose your captain just before a game like this. We’re hoping he’ll be back for next weekend. It was a weird thing with his knee.”
Often criticised, Cooper’s importance to Leeds has come to the fore in recent weeks.
Now pundit Paul Robinson, speaking to MOT Leeds News, has underlined the qualities he brings to the side.
“You only have to look at when Cooper’s come back into the team when he and Kalvin Phillips kept two clean sheets.
“It’s not just his performances that are good but his leadership qualities are as well both on and off the field.
“Robin Koch, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk all look better players when they play alongside Cooper just because of that.
“He’s got a good understanding of the game and when he doesn’t play, I think it’s more of a communication issue.
“It’ll be a big loss for Leeds if he’s out any longer.
“If it was a case of missing the Manchester City game and then playing the rest of the season or playing the Man City game and missing the season, they’ve made the right choice.
“You’d much rather him miss one and play the rest.”
Not put a foot wrong all season
Aside from giving away a soft penalty to Everton on the opening day, Liam Cooper has not put a foot wrong playing for Leeds this season.
Sometimes unfairly criticised by fans, his importance to the cause has been underlined by results with and without him in the side this term.
Sadly, from a Leeds point of view, he has missed far more than they would have liked this season, owing mainly to the hamstring injury – sustained on December 5 v Brentford.
That sidelined Cooper until early April, with Leeds conceding just once in the subsequent three games he started.
As such, Marsch will be desperately hoping his skipper is fit to face Arsenal.
The Gunners are firing this season and pushing for a top-four finish – making Sunday’s clash all the more tricky.
His deputy, Pascal Struijk, has looked a little shaky in recent weeks and having Cooper in their side again will give Leeds hope of a positive result.
Meanwhile, one Leeds loanee has expressed his wish to leave in the event of relegation.
The article Liam Cooper injury news: possible return date wait as pundit explains Leeds captain’s qualities appeared first on Teamtalk.com.