Danny Mills has claimed Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper may be axed from the Leeds United starting XI after the arrival of Ben White changed the centre-back picture in the team.
The Yorkshire giants simultaneously announced the arrivals of centre-back White and winger Jack Harrison on season-long loans from Brighton and Manchester City on Monday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, ex-Leeds defender Mills suggested skipper Cooper and talisman Jansson will both have something to prove to Marcelo Bielsa in pre-season.
“There will be real competition for places now,” he said. “You could see Jansson and White starting together in central defence, or White and Cooper.
“You need that competition. If there’s no competition for places, even the best can get complacent. We saw last season that Leeds were short in that position, and Kalvin Phillips had to drop back for a few months when Cooper was injured.
“Cooper is a good, steady player. He had some very good performances last season and the odd mistake here and there. He has improved a lot since he joined Leeds, but you have to keep improving every season. If you stand still, you go backwards.
“He could easily start the season on the sidelines, especially if he’s not performing to the level Bielsa wants in training.”
Cooper and Jansson each started 37 of Leeds’ league matches last season, while the skipper also played both the play-off matches, which the Sweden international missed due to injury.
They were both named in the Championship team of the year, although their performances were less sure in the final weeks of the campaign as United’s results collapsed.