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Jake Cooper is shining at Millwall, proving Reading wrong

The centre-back has been in fine form for an impressive Millwall side.

Mathew Nash

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Photo: Getty Images

Back in September 2015, Reading, then managed by Steve Clarke, took on Everton in the League Cup.

Unfortunately for the Royals, they came up against a Ross Barkley in impressive form. He scored along with Gerard Deulofeu to give a strong Everton side a 2-1 win.

But the one player from Reading who truly stood out in the game was young defender Jake Cooper.

He shackled Romelu Lukaku for 90 minutes in an incredible display which left the potent Belgian unable to have any impact.

That was supposed to be the start of something special for Cooper at Reading.

The local lad from Bracknell was tipped to be a starter for years to come at the Madejski Stadium.

However, that did not happen. Reading gave up on Cooper and another team are now reaping the benefit of that oversight.

(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

That team is Millwall.

Cooper headed to Millwall on loan in January last year and helped guide the London club to League One promotion.

In the summer, Millwall completed his permanent signing for a fee reported by The Sun to be in the region of £400,000.

That is now looking like an absolute bargain.

Whilst Reading are flirting with relegation from the Championship, Millwall have taken everyone in the Championship by surprise.

(Photo by Gylne Kirk/Getty Images)

Currently, Neil Harris’ men are 10th in the table and just four points off the top six.

Cooper has been an essential member of the Millwall side who have moved into such a strong position.

Conceding just 37 goals in 38 games, the Lions have one of the best defensive records in the league, whilst Reading’s is the fourth worst.

Cooper showed all the promise to become a top Championship defender whilst at Reading but the Royals decided he was not up to the task.

Millwall have undoubtedly enjoyed picking up on their divisional rival’s mistake.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Leeds United

Leeds United round-up: De Bock interest, O’Kane to Charlton and managerial shortlist

A selection of the latest news and gossip from Leeds United.

Mathew Nash

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De Bock option

Laurens De Bock has an option to head out of Leeds United before the end of the month. The Belgian has struggled to have an impact at Leeds since arriving in January.

The left-back has now dropped down the pecking order at Leeds, with youngster Tom Pearce and summer signing Barry Douglas overtaking him.

According to Voetbal24, he could be heading to Israel. Beitar Jerusalem are said to be keen on the player, where his former manager Guy Luzon is currently working.

IPSWICH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: Eunan O’Kane of Leeds United leaves the field after being sent off during the Sky Bet Championship match between Ipswich Town and Leeds United at Portman Road on January 13, 2018 in Ipswich, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

O’Kane wanted

Leeds United midfielder Eunan O’Kane could still be heading to Charlton Athletic. The Irish international has been frozen out at Leeds and is expected to leave Elland Road before the end of the month.

League One Charlton, managed by former Leeds midfielder Lee Bowyer, have been linked with a move earlier this month.

Now, as reported by the Yorkshire Post, the Addicks will continue looking for his signature over the next week or so.

Managerial shortlist

Leeds’ managerial shortlist before the start of the season had a number of top names present. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani confirmed that the likes of Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri and Roberto Martinez were all considered for the manager role at Elland Road.

Leeds eventually appointed Marcelo Bielsa and his impact has been dramatic and immediate in West Yorkshire.

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Leeds United

Leeds United should consider sending Yosuke Ideguchi to KAS Eupen

The Japan international looks unlikely to play a major role at Leeds this season.

Mathew Nash

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Leeds United’s excellent start to the season has been largely down to the management of Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine has worked wonders with his new players. He even brought in the likes of Mateusz Klich from the cold, with aplomb.

However, another player who spent the second half of last season loaned out elsewhere was Yosuke Ideguchi. So far, the Japanese international has not received a chance under Bielsa.

It looks as though he might be sent out on loan before the end of the month, but interest from these shores looks scarce.

VALLADOLID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 03: Yosuke Ideguchi of Cultural Leonesa warms up prior to the LaLiga 123 match between Valladolid and Cultural Leonesa at Estadio Jose Zorrilla on February 3, 2018 in Valladolid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Last season he spent time with Leeds partner club Cultural Leonesa. The two teams have a strong link through director Ivan Bravo and the Aspire Foundation.

But Cultural was a waste of time for Ideguchi. He barely played and they were relegated to the third-tier. The Spanish side are not, however, the only Aspire team in Europe.

KAS Eupen of Belgium’s top-flight also have a connection with Bravo and Aspire. If Leeds want to help Ideguchi get better, perhaps sending him here is a better shout.

Not only would he playing a similar style of football to that in England, but he would be doing so under one of the best central midfielders to play the game in England.

BRUGGE, BELGIUM – JULY 29: Yuta Toyokawa pictured in action during the Jupiler Pro League match between Club Brugge and KAS Eupen at Jan Breydel Stadium on July 29, 2018 in Brugge, Belgium. (Photo by Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images)

Claude Makelele is the manager at the club. The former Chelsea star would undoubtedly have a lot of knowledge to pass down to a young midfielder.

He would also have the added advantage of a Japanese team-mate. Yuta Toyokawa joined the club in January, amid controversy surrounding an apparent move to Leeds. He is a similar age to the Leeds misfit. Having him around could help the pair settle in their new surroundings.

If Leeds cannot find someone in the UK to take on Ideguchi, then sending him to Eupen looks like being the next best thing.

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Marco Bielsa is already setting records at Leeds United, with last season’s team

The turn around at Elland Road in the opening weeks of the season has been remarkable.

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Marco Bielsa
Photo: Getty Images

Four games into his Leeds United tenure and Marco Bielsa is already setting records with his new team.

After a 2-1 victory over Rotherham on Saturday, the Argentine head coach becomes the first boss at Elland Road to win the club’s first four games at the start of a domestic season, in all competitions.

The standards being set by the 63-year-old since his arrival have been somewhat remarkable with the playing style he has quickly been able to implement proving mesmerising, even to those who are typically opposed to the club.

But, perhaps the most impressive quality about the performances Championship fans are witnessing, is the fact Bielsa has set this record with practically the same team that took to the field, and could only achieve a 13th place finish, last season.

At Elland Road this weekend, the starting XI only contained one summer signing, which just goes to demonstrate the impressive work Bielsa has carried out with the players over the summer period.

Already being referred to as a ‘ready-made Premier League side’, after years of heart break at Elland Road, there will now be a genuine believe that the Whites can return to the English top flight come the end of the season.

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