Noel Whelan has claimed Liam Cooper is “irreplaceable” at Leeds United and his lengthy injury absence is a “massive blow”.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United forward reacted to Leeds’ first of what will be many matches without their inspirational skipper.
Cooper was absent from the team that lost 2-1 in the Championship at Millwall on Saturday and his replacement Gaetano Berardi last 14 minutes before he was sent off.
Leeds face the prospect of being without Cooper for five more weeks as well as Berardi after the international break if their appeal to overturn his red card is rejected.
“Cooper is a massive loss, losing him is a huge blow to Leeds,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He is not only the club captain and outstanding defender but he gives Leeds balance because he is the only left footed centre-back at the club.
“He is irreplaceable. You are losing his height, aerial prowess and leadership, as well as the continuity of his partnership with Ben White.
“He can also turn defence into attack with one crossfield pass. We have seen time and again the quality of his long-range passing, and that’s a major asset to lose.”
Leeds released a statement last week stating that Cooper would be sidelined for six weeks with a groin injury sustained in the 1-0 win over West Brom.
Bielsa subsequently claimed that the Scotland international could be back sooner than that.
In other Leeds United news, a £120K-a-week Premier League star is willing to take pay cut to move to Elland Road.