Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn confirmed yesterday at his press conference (as reported by the club’s Twitter account) ahead of the Middlesbrough game that central defender Liam Cooper has been training well and is in contention to start the game.
Cooper has been a key player in the Leeds back four this season but there are reasons why he shouldn’t come back into the team and why Redfearn should show continuity with his team selection.
Leeds are on a good run with four wins in their last five games, which Cooper has been part of but two clean sheets for the team in the last two games against Reading away and Millwall at home have shown signs of solidity in the back four.
It’s a risk for Redfearn to throw Cooper straight back into the team because the back four hasn’t done anything wrong in the last two games.
The challenge for Cooper if he’s left out against Middlesbrough this weekend is to handle the decision well and fight his way back into the team.
Redfearn will more than likely be keeping a close eye on how he reacts and handles that decision, which makes it important for him to avoid any urge to throw his toys out of the pram and understandably kick up a fuss.
It’s not just a risk because of the last two games, it’s a risk because of the hip injury he has been carrying.
He’s trained well but the stress and strain on players in matches is something that no amount of training can replicate and there will be a worry for Redfearn, of the problem reoccurring.
The sensible approach is to bench him and maybe give him some game time if Leeds are comfortable, but he’ll have to be patient and wait for his next chance.
It’s a cliché and well used saying but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.