By Alex Stevens
Lewis Cook ran rise to the same level as Dele Alli – but only if he learns to channel his frustration better.
That is the verdict of Leeds manager Steve Evans after Cook was named the Football League Young Player of the Year on Sunday night.
Teenage playmaker Cook beat off competition from fellow nominees Fulham striker Mousa Dembele and Walsall left-back Rico Henry to land the coveted gong.
Cook has followed in the footsteps of the 2015 winner Alli, who has gone onto receive international honours and wide acclaim in his first season at Tottenham. Gareth Bale (2007) and Fabian Delph (2009) are also internationally recognised previous winners of the award.
However, Evans believes the 19-year-old Leeds star must channel his aggression in a more productive way if he is to follow Alli and company to the top.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and I said when I walked in the door I’m very fortunate to work with Lewis,” Evans told Radio Yorkshire on Monday. “He follows the achievement of a boy who won it last year who is now an absolute star in the Premier League [Dele Alli] – and Lewis Cook will attain that level and play at that level.
“He just has to stop being frustrated as much as he gets at times, and channel that into being even better.”
Leeds defender Liam Cooper hinted at the aggression of Cook on Sunday night when he paid tribute to his younger team-mate on Twitter and added, “See you at training tomorrow for another row.” Cooper also posted the hashtag #angrylittleman.
Cook, 19, has been a mainstay of the Leeds team for a second consecutive season, starting 37 of their 42 Championship matches in 2015/16 and providing further evidence of the potential that has made him a regular for the England Under-19s.
In other Leeds news, ex-Elland Road striker Noel Whelan has identified the ‘horrible’ player his former club need to sign to push for the Premier League.