Bielsa gives Cooper no guarantees despite huge lift over Leeds skipper

Liam Cooper

Marcelo Bielsa has refused to guarantee Liam Cooper a place in his side to face Leicester, despite confirming the Leeds captain was fit again after injury.

Cooper has missed the last two matches through a calf injury sustained while on Scotland duty.

The skipper was a late withdrawal against Wolves after pulling up in the warm-up. He was also absent for the impressive 3-0 win at Aston Villa last time out.

However, Bielsa confirmed Cooper was available to face Leicester on Monday night.

“Cooper is fine now, but [Diego] Llorente won’t be fit for this weekend.”

Asked when the Spaniard might be fit, Bielsa was giving little away.

“It’s subject to the evolution of the injury – again, it is the same with Kalvin Phillips [shoulder].

Bielsa was asked if the additional time was a benefit.

However, the Leeds chief said it was merely a case of swings and aroundabouts.



“If we had played on the weekend we would have been fine to resolve the issue as well,” he said. “The fact we’ve had more days to prepare for this game means we will have less days for the Crystal Palace game. You get one thing, but it goes for you now and against the next time.”

During Cooper’s absence at Villa, Luke Ayling moved to the heart of defence and excelled once again.

The reshuffle saw Stuart Dallas switch to right-back and Gjanni Alioski come in at left-back. But with all three impressing, Bielsa offered Cooper no guarantees on a start.

“He’s at a very good level, but I haven’t picked the XI yet. Being able to count on him is very good,” Bielsa added.


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Bielsa cautious on Leeds position

Leeds have earned plenty of plaudits for their form since their return to the Premier League. However, with just six games played, Bielsa is choosing to stay cautious.

“It’s too premature to make conclusions at this moment in time,” was his response.

Bielsa though is certain a clash against Leicester will provide his side with another thorough asssessment.

“They are a team who manage the ball well and have the spirit to attack.

“They’re a team playing the same style for some time now. All the teams in the Premier League are a very high level and present similar challenges. Of course, some teams are above the rest, but the rest of the teams, generally, are difficult to face.”

As for prolific Leicester frontman Jamie Vardy, Bielsa added: “He’s a very good player who scores lots of goals and he’s very quick. Of course we take into account all the characteristics of the opponent’s attackers, but there won’t be any particular changes with that in mind.”