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Marcelo Bielsa makes Liam Cooper claim after Leeds win

Marcelo Bielsa suggested that Liam Cooper being at his best in training ultimately prompted him to pick the Leeds United skipper ahead of Pascal Struijk for Saturday – in comments reported by Leeds Live.

There was plenty of intrigue heading into the weekend clash with Sheffield United. For perhaps the first time this season, Bielsa had all four of his first-choice centre-backs available to him.

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Cooper completed the quartet after returning from illness. But it appeared that he may face a fight to return to the fold with Diego Llorente and Struijk looking hugely impressive before the international break.

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Ultimately, Bielsa opted for Cooper and Llorente against the Blades. And when asked about the decision, the Leeds boss suggested that the Scot had forced his hand.

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“Pascal played very well against Chelsea and Fulham but in the training this week I saw that Cooper was at his best,” he said, as reported by Leeds Live.

“Cooper is the type of player who doesn’t lose his sharpness even if he isn’t able to train for one or two weeks and when we confirmed that it was still in this manner in the training sessions this week I opted for him.

“But the two games that Pascal played previously would have also made him deserving of continuing in the XI.”

Cooper is perhaps back to having a point to prove. He silenced many of his doubters with his form at the highest level.

However, Bielsa now has his two big-money summer signings available. Meanwhile, Struijk has been a revelation in the last 12 months.

So it is going to be fascinating to see how the pecking order changes over the coming weeks. One thing that is for certain is Cooper is not going to give up his place easily.

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