By Coral Barry
Lewis Cook should be “fresh” for Leeds’ clash against Rotherham on Saturday even though he played three matches for England under-19s during the international break.
That is the verdict of manager Steve Evans, as he reacted to manager Aidy Boothroyd ignoring his plea to rest the teenager during the crucial age-group qualifying games.
Cook played 90 minutes and a starring role in the 2-0 away victory against Spain on Tuesday night that sealed qualification for this summer’s European Under-19s Championships.
The promising youngster also played 90 minutes in the opening 2-1 win against Georgia last week and came on in the 67th minute in the 1-1 with Greece last Saturday.
Prize asset Cook was the most used of Leeds’ players during the international break after he had been given a breather for the 4-1 defeat to Huddersfield that preceded it because, according to Evans, he was “on his knees”.
“With the exception of young Cooky, then no-one has had too much game time,” Evans told the Leeds website on Thursday afternoon.
“We made a request to England for Cooky’s game time to be marginalised but they had to win. I’ve known Aidy 20 years and they had to qualify, so he had to go really strong in the final game against Spain, who are such a good side, and Cook gives you a chance to win, and of course they did.
“Even the fact he has played two games and 25 minutes [of a third game] is no problem to me. He got a nice break of almost two weeks before he went to play for England, so that will have stood him in good stead.
“He just needed eight or nine days of down time, away from the cut and thrust of playing football. I’m expecting to see a fresh Cooky.”
Leeds are 13th in the Championship as they prepare for Saturday’s clash against Evans’ former side Rotherham.
In other Leeds news, defender Liam Cooper has had his say amid reports of dressing-room mutiny at the club.