Bringing Liam Cooper back too soon from injury “could prove costly” for Leeds United, according to Alex McLeish.

The former Aston Villa and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has suggested the 29-year-old has the experience to get back into the swing of things straight away provided he has fully recovered from his layoff.

Speaking on BBC Radio Leeds’ West Yorkshire Sport Daily show, reporter Adam Pope stated there is “every chance” Cooper would be available for this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Crawley after recovering from an abdominal strain picked up against Manchester United.

Cooper, who scored in the 6-2 loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in mid-December, missed three games as a result of his layoff.

However, McLeish has suggested there should be no problem with the Scotland international making an immediate return to Marcelo Bielsa’s side provided he is over his injury.

McLeish told Football Insider: “If he’s ready to go back in after a wee period out, if his fitness hasn’t been disrupted too much then he can come straight back in.

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“He’s a very experienced player and experienced players tend to kind of slot back in quicker than most because they know the game, the insides of the whole team, the telepathy-type thing.

Leeds United captain

“The worry is that he’s not up speed, he’s not up to the speed of the Premier League and he takes a game or two to get back to his level.

“Being a defender, you know if you’re not back to your level right away then it could prove costly but I would hope Bielsa’s bringing him back because he’s fully fit.”

In other news, Football Insider can reveal West Ham and Leeds United in hunt to sign giant defender.