Noel Whelan claims Leeds have suffered a “huge blow” with “outstanding” performer

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…

Speaking to Football Insider, Noel Whelan has delivered his verdict on the injury to Liam Cooper, suggesting the defender is an irreplaceable figure in the Leeds side.

What’s he said?

Cooper limped off during the first half of Leeds’ win over West Brom last week, being replaced by Gaetano Berardi who ended up getting sent off against Millwall.

The Scot was ruled out for a period of six weeks following the encounter, putting an end to a run of matches where he’d missed just one all term.

He has effectively been an irremovable object in the side and as a result, it’s not a surprise to see his injury receive a damning verdict.

Whelan told Football Insider this week:

“Cooper is a massive loss, losing him is a huge blow to Leeds. 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.”

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Where does the solution lie?

It remains to be seen how Leeds go onto cope without their skipper. Initial signs didn’t bode well at The Den last time out as they succumbed to defeat.

Cooper had been part of a defence that had conceded just five times in the league prior to last weekend but they looked shaky without him.

The 28-year-old has been imperative in recent times and was even named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2018/19.

He recently earned a new deal too, placing weight on Whelan’s irreplaceable comments. Certainly, had they lost him and Pontus Jansson this summer Leeds would have been in trouble.

The issue for Marcelo Bielsa now, however, is finding someone to replace him. Berardi’s small cameo proved that he is still an unreliable figure, even if the red card was incredibly harsh, but there are other options.

Did Leeds need to sign another CB?

Yes

Yes

No

No

The Argentine admitted last week that Olly Casey, Pascal Struijk, Kalvin Phillips and Leif Davis could all play there so it shall be intriguing to see who gets the nod after the international break.

Moving to a three-man defence could well be on the cards as well. It’s something Bielsa tried last term and has utilised on a couple of occasions in 2019/20 too.

The 64-year-old has a dilemma on his hands.

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