By Michael Brown

23rd Oct, 2020 | 6:00pm

Exclusive: Top pundit frets over 'Huge' Leeds defender problem pre-Villa

Michael Brown has claimed losing Liam Cooper has been a “huge” blow for Leeds United.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds midfielder insists that injuries have “dictated” Marcelo Bielsa’s team selection at the back this season.

Cooper, 29, missed the opening day defeat against Liverpool through injury while he pulled out in the warm-up for the 1-0 loss to Wolves last week.

Pascal Struijk stepped in for the Scotland international on both occasions, while Robin Koch has been an ever-present at the heart of the defence for the Whites.

Brown admits the chopping and changing has not helped Leeds’ cause this season and that they need to find some consistency at the back.

Brown told Football Insider: “They lost Liam Cooper in the warm-up against Wolves which is huge to adapt to. 

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“It will still take time to get used to life in the Premier League, a couple of injuries which are not helping and testing the squad. 

“You just need the players fit and then Marcelo Bielsa can decide. They’ve been dealt a blow at the back at the moment and then Phillips is that protector who can also drop back one if needed.

“It’s not ideal, injuries sort of dictate that at times.” 

Cooper managed to play 38 of Leeds’ 46 Championship games last season, while loan star Ben White was an ever-present in the side.

While Koch, Cooper and Struijk have all featured this term, summer signing Fernando Llorente is yet to make his debut and is currently out injured.

In other Leeds United news, senior forward unlikely to play for club again after shattering blow.