Leeds boss Steve Evans suggests what Lewis Cook's frustrating performance in weekend defeat highlights about his reputation

Elland Road pitchside

The 18-year-old struggled to make an impact in the Championship clash with Nottingham Forest.

Leeds United boss Steve Evans has insisted that Lewis Cook should feel flattered despite enduring a frustrating afternoon during the Whites' defeat to Nottingham Forest at the weekend, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.

The 18-year-old was unable to stamp his authority on the game as he was tightly-marked by Forest midfielder David Vaughan. And while the nature of the loss may leave Cook hugely disappointed, his manager has urged him to look at the game as a positive learning experience.

"He’s a young teenager but it shows when they stick Vaughan on him, such a good and experienced player as that. If Cook had gone for a shower at half-time he'd have passed him the shower gel. That's how tight he is to him all afternoon," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"He'll learn from that. We spoke to him afterwards about how to lose people in those situations.

"But that's what happens when you're a top player and as an 18-year-old, to be getting man marked in the Championship speaks volumes about how good he is."

With the defeat leaving United 14 points adrift of the play-off places, it may only be the most optimistic of fans that still believe that Evans' men can catch the top six before the end of the campaign.

And while the prospect of a seventh consecutive season in the second tier will frustrate supporters enormously, playing the rest of this campaign with very little riding on their games could actually benefit Cook's development.

The idea of going into games knowing that promotion and relegation are very unlikely may relieve the youngster of the pressure that is already on his shoulders.

He may now be more willing to take some risks and try different things - like Evans has recently started doing, using the midfielder in a more advanced role - in an attempt to understand what he needs to do to avoid being potentially marked out of the game, so he can continually make the difference that his obvious talent suggests he has the potential to make in future. 

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