Having Liam Cooper back available will be a “massive plus” for Leeds United ahead of Saturday’s clash against Brighton.
That is the view of former Aston Villa and Scotland defender Alan Hutton who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, was left raving after his fellow countryman returned to action against Crawley Town last weekend.
The centre-back was given 45 minutes in what ended as a shock FA Cup defeat for Marcelo Bielsa’s men – although the captain had been taken off before the League Two side scored three second-half goals.
Hutton believes Cooper’s withdrawal was a pre-meditated decision from Bielsa and that the Argentine boss will be delighted to see him back ahead of a return to league action.
Hutton told Football Insider: “He’s been missed, he’s missed a few games and I think that’s the case that he would have probably been told before: ‘We’re going to play you for 45 minutes, 60 minutes we’ll see how you go type of thing.’
“That would have been a question between him and the manager – ‘how are you feeling’, ‘I’m feeling a bit tired’; ‘right take him off’. It’s obviously good to see him back because I think they’ve obviously struggled at the back.
“Corners conceded, how high they’re playing, wingers in at full-back, Ayling, a full-back, in at centre-half – even though he’s done well, it’s just not natural. I think with all that, that’s how you lose goals.
“Obviously, to see him back will be a massive plus for the manager.”
The Whites’ defeat means Bielsa is yet to take the club past the third round of the FA Cup.
Leeds have been forced to play the likes of Luke Ayling, Kalvin Phillips and Pascal Struijk at centre-back in recent weeks, with Robin Koch and Diego Llorente both out injured.