Noel Whelan has admitted he is delighted to see Liam Cooper back in contention for Leeds United to face Leicester City.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds striker and lifelong fan at Elland Road has insisted that Marcelo Bielsa needs to build up a partnership between the Scotland international and Robin Koch at the heart of the defence.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, as relayed by journalist Joe Urquhart, Bielsa confirmed that the 29-year-old was fit and available to play on Monday night.
Cooper is fit and available for selection. Llorente still sidelined with Phillips. Bielsa says he hasn't chosen his starting line-up yet after being quizzed over Shackleton and Raphinha. #lufc https://t.co/njrmyCzfab
— Joe Urquhart (@JoeUrquhart_) October 30, 2020
Cooper sat out against both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa due to a minor groin injury picked up on international duty.
With the centre-back finally available again, Whelan insists he needs to go straight back into the starting XI against the Foxes.
Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s huge. Don’t get me wrong, off the back of a fantastic victory against Aston Villa away, without our captain, it’ll be very hard to change things.
“At the same time, you’ve got to look at what he brings and what he does add to the side which is stability at the back, consistency on that left-hand side that he brings and it’s starting that partnership again.
“We’ve got to get that partnership going because it’s been too on and off with Cooper being in and out and Robin Koch has been ever-present. He needs someone who’s going to stabilise that partnership with him and that’s got to be Liam Cooper for now.
Cooper has played just three times in Leeds’ opening six games of the new Premier League campaign due to injury.
Bielsa played Luke Ayling as a makeshift centre-back versus Aston Villa with Diego Llorente and Kalvin Phillips also out of action.
In other Leeds United news, pundit left in awe of ‘Excellent’ youngster after ‘Surprise’ Bielsa call.