By Emma Sanders
Leeds fans reacted with panic on Twitter after reliable journalist Phil Hay reported Kyle Bartley will miss Thursday evening’s clash against Aston Villa.
The Yorkshire Evening post correspondent claimed on his personal Twitter account that Bartley was not in Garry Monk’s squad for the Villa Park fixture.
Hay also stated Liam Cooper would be Bartley’s centre-back replacement at Villa Park.
Bit of early team news and a blow for Leeds – no Kyle Bartley at Villa tonight. Expect Liam Cooper to start. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) December 29, 2016
The 25-year-old skipper has been a hugely important member of Garry Monk’s side, so his absence from the team-sheet has come as a major blow for fans.
The majority were happy enough to see Cooper named as his replacement but they could not hide their disappointment just hours before kick-off.
Hay gave no explanation of Bartley’s absence, though it is thought to be a precaution after he was treated for a head injury in the 4-1 victory against Preston on Monday.
Here is a selection of the messages on Twitter:
So Bartley can't play because of a fat lip then? 😂😂😂
— James Landon (@jameslandon15) December 29, 2016
— Jess Furness (@jessicafurness_) December 29, 2016
No Kyle Bartley tonight, a massive Miss but Liam Cooper is a great replacement, been reliable this season when called upon! #lufc
— Right In The Gary Kellys (@RITGK) December 29, 2016
No Bartley could be a blow! 😕
— Jordan Acton (@jacton999) December 29, 2016
As good as Bartley is, Cooper is a very capable substitute for him. We look decent at CB #lufc
— Sean Hill (@seanahill) December 29, 2016
No Kyle Bartley 2nite is a massive blow
— Scott kirk (@sjkirk27) December 29, 2016
Bartley has formed a terrific partnership alongside Pontus Jansson in defence this season and the Leeds star has already made 23 appearances in the Championship.
He netted the winning goal in the 1-0 victory against Brentford earlier this month and is considered one of Leeds’ best players, producing a number of terrific performances at centre-back.
Leeds hope to consolidate their place in the play-off positions and go into the clash against Aston Villa in fifth spot.
Steve Bruce’s side are in good form and have picked up nine points from their last four league fixtures so Monk’s side could face a challenge at Villa Park.
In other Leeds news, David Prutton predicts the clash against Villa.