Noel Whelan has tipped Liam Cooper to return to the Leeds United starting XI against Leicester City in their next Premier League clash.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former United striker has “heard” the centre-back is closing in on a comeback after missing the team’s last two matches with a groin injury.
Cooper was forced to pull out of the starting XI against Wolves last Monday after breaking down in the warm-up, while he was completely absent from the squad in last Friday’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Marcelo Bielsa rejigged the Leeds defence against Villa as he was also deprived of £18million summer signing Diego Llorente.
Luke Ayling moved across to partner Robin Koch, Stuart Dallas shifted to right-back and Ezgjan Alioski came in at left-back as Leeds recorded a memorable victory.
Asked if he thought Cooper would be back against Leicester, Whelan told Football Insider: “Yeah, from what I’ve heard. We’ve got a fair bit of time now until the match.
“I think it was the right thing to do, not to even try risk him on the Monday night against Wolves and not even have him in the squad on Friday night against Villa.
“Give him that extra two weeks to really recover from this little niggle that he has because it would be nice to get him back again. Llorente’s a little bit further away, I do believe.
“It’s important that we get our natural centre-half and captain back in that side again and get that partnership going with Robin Koch, who’s ever-present at the minute and looking fit, looking strong, looking fantastic.
“I do think we need to get the pegs in the right holes and then get Ayling back onto the right and Dallas on the left.”