Garry Monk incredulous over severity of Leeds United defender's suspension

Leeds manager Garry Monk

Centre-back Liam Cooper has been banned for six games by the FA, virtually ending his season.

Leeds' Liam Cooper remonstrates with the assistant referee after a penalty was awarded to Aston Villa

Leeds United manager Garry Monk has told the Yorkshire Evening Post that he thinks the six-match ban imposed on defender Liam Cooper is "incredibly harsh".

Cooper will now miss the Whites' next six games after being served a lengthy suspension after the FA found him guilty of stamping on Reading loanee Reece Oxford in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat.

That all but ends the 25-year-old's season; he will only be eligible for United's final game of the season next month.

That is a real shame for Cooper, who has already endured something of a disrupted season, making just 18 appearances in all competitions.

Speaking after the ban was confirmed, Monk seemed taken aback by the severity of the punishment.

However, he insisted that Cooper, regarded as something of a leader at the back despite his relatively young age, will continue to play a crucial role off the pitch during his absence.

Monk said, via the YEP: “I think it’s incredibly harsh to be honest – the length of the ban. But it’s a situation that we have to face. There’s nothing we can do about it, we have to accept it and get on with it.

“I’m disappointed for Liam but he’s an important player and he will have an important role to play even with this suspension. He’s an important member of the group and we will make sure he is ready for when he is available again.

"It’s frustrating and you don’t want to lose any player. Liam is a leader among the group and he is still going to play that role. We just feel disappointed for him. But it’s a situation that we have to get on with and we have faced situations throughout the season with injuries and suspension. You have to get on with it and it’s the same again.”

It is undoubtedly a blow for Leeds to lose Cooper at such a crucial time. Though Monk will say he has adequate cover, the Whites need all hands on deck if they are to secure a playoff spot.

After this week's 2-0 defeat to Brentford, Leeds have fallen to fifth in the Championship table, with their playoff points cushion cut to five with six games remaining.

Leeds manager Garry Monk

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