COMMENT By Editor Wayne Veysey
Leeds could be back in the Premier League next season if they take advantage of Lewis Cook’s diminished status at Bournemouth and sign him on loan in the January transfer window.
The Elland Road academy product is on the comeback trail as he eyes a return to action in mid to late January after suffering a serious ankle injury in October.
The initial prognosis was that Cook would be out for three months, which means he will be fit in time for Leeds to re-sign him before the window shuts.
Even before his injury, Cook was struggling to get a look-in at the Premier League side following his summer arrival in a deal rising to £10million.
The 19-year-old might have won the Football League young player of the year award for 2015-16 but he was struggling to elbow his way past the likes of Jack Wilshere, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman in the race for central midfield places.
Leeds should take advantage of Cook’s situation and attempt to bring him back to Elland Road in the second half of the season.
With the central midfielder back in the Yorkshire giants’ side, the team would have greater dynamism and quality on the ball.
They have punched above their weight this season but injuries are starting in bite in midfield particularly, with Garry Monk over-reliant on Cook’s academy successors Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira, who are not in the class of the man they have replaced.
Cook has been limited to just one Premier League appearance for Eddie Howe’s side this season, with two more coming in the EFL Cup against Preston and Morecambe.
The south coast club might consider it logical to make Cook available for loan in January, if he continues to struggle to find a way past the likes of Wilshere, Arter and company.
Leeds have secured a string of impressive results in recent months to climb to sixth in the league ahead of Tuesday night’s Championship clash against Reading.
Cook would offer another dimension to Leeds’ attack; dribbling from deep and taking opposition players out of the game. His long-range shooting ability is also something that Leeds do not currently possess in midfield.
Republic of Ireland international Eunan O’Kane, who, ironically moved from Bournemouth, is a solid citizen, while Vieira and Phillips have made great strides this season.
But Cook would be an ideal partner for midfield enforcer Liam Bridcutt, who is back fit after a three-month injury absence of his own.
Cook is the real deal and he could take his former club back to the next level if a deal could be agreed.
In other Leeds transfer news, the club on closing in on a £3.6million new signing.