By Coral Barry

Steve Evans has pleaded with the England Under-19s not to overplay Lewis Cook in the upcoming European qualifiers.

Cook, 19, was selected in the age-group squad on Wednesday for the forthcoming internationals but was named on the bench during Leeds’ 4-1 league defeat to Huddersfield on Saturday.

The midfielder has been a pivotal part of the Leeds team this year but has already made 37 appearances in all competitions and Evans revealed Cook was exhausted after the 2-1 victory over Blackburn a week ago.

“Cook was on his knees after Blackburn,” said Evans speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Cooky’s scheduled for three games [for England], but I’ve already made a request that we don’t send this boy into three games.”

Cook has made five appearances for the under-19s since making his debut in March of last year.

England face a crucial two weeks in their bid to reach the European Under-19s Championships in the summer with games against Georgia, Greece and Spain.

The final fixture against Spain is just five days before Leeds’ next league encounter with Rotherham on 2 April and Evans has admitted he thinks England need to be smart with Cook’s game-time.

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The Leeds manager said: “They’re big games for England at that level and I appreciate the task those guys have got but we’ve got a young boy here who we’ve put on the bench for the right reasons.

“I’d expect England to be looking at that closely and dealing with it.

“Hopefully he goes away, gets a game and a half or whatever it is, and comes back ready for more action at Leeds United.”

In other Leeds news, Evans has given an update on the fitness of one of the Whites key men.