Leeds United captain Liam Cooper has been singled out for praise by BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson as he looked ahead to the Whites’ upcoming Premier League game this weekend.
The 29-year-old missed last weekend’s 4-3 defeat at Liverpool after returning from international duty with Scotland and failed a late fitness test ahead of the Anfield match.
Cooper wasn’t involved in the midweek League Cup meeting with Hull City at Elland Road either, a tie which saw the visitors prevail on penalties after Leeds netted late on for a 1-1 draw.
Ahead of Leeds’ meeting with fellow Premier League newcomers Fulham, Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa told Leeds Live that he thinks Cooper will be ready to feature on Saturday.
These are the other two promoted teams and, like West Brom, they both lost last weekend,” Lawrenson told BBC Sport about the fixture between Leeds and Fulham.
“Those results do not really tell the full story, though. Leeds could not really have had a much more positive return to the top flight, despite their defeat at Anfield.
“There’s a chance Leeds captain Liam Cooper will be back on Saturday after missing the Liverpool game with a calf injury, and he would obviously improve them defensively.
“I’m backing Marcelo Bielsa’s side to get the win this time, especially because they are playing at Elland Road.”
Ahead of the first Premier League match to take place at Elland Road for 16 years, Cooper’s likely return to the Leeds line-up will come as a welcome boost to Bielsa.
Pascal Struijk and Robin Koch were picked at centre-back, the former making just his third senior start and the latter turning out just days after arriving at the club.
Though they didn’t do badly against arguably the strongest attack in world football, Cooper is bound to get his place back should he be fit to feature, and as Lawrenson says, will help toughen up the defence.