Former England international Darren Bent has claimed that Leeds United’s ability to call on Liam Cooper from the bench in their 2-1 win over Luton Town on Saturday was like a ‘blessing in disguise’.
Cooper, who could have been a doubt for the trip to Kenilworth Road after pulling out of international duty with Scotland due to injury earlier this month, was brought on in the 59th minute of the game in place of fellow centre back Gaetano Berardi, just moments after James Collins had equalised for the hosts.
Following that change, Leeds would go onto claim all three points from the game thanks to a 90th-minute own goal from Luton defender Matty Pearson, with Preston’s defeat at Derby at the same time allowing Marcelo Bielsa’s climb into the Championship automatic promotion places.
Now it seems that Bent feels Cooper will have a big to part to play both on and off the pitch in Leeds’ quest to retain that position throughout the rest of the season.
Speaking to Football Insider about the importance of Cooper to Leeds, Bent said: “He’s their captain, he’s their leader and he’s one of their players who has been there and done it before with Leeds.
“He knows what to expect, so at the same time they need him on the pitch, but if he isn’t on the pitch they need him around the place.”
Explaining why it is that Cooper is able to play that role at Leeds, the former striker continued: “He’s been at that club a long time, he knows what it takes to play in front of the fans and yeah it’s a blessing in disguise again that they can call on a player like that to come on, settle everyone down, and then go again.”
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Following that win at Luton, Leeds return to action on Tuesday night, when they travel to the Madejski Stadium to face Reading.
I think what happened on Saturday with Cooper is a big boost for Leeds.
There will have been some concern about the centre back’s availability in what is set to be a busy week for the club following his withdrawal from the Scotland squad, so to see him available again so soon will be a big relief.
As Bent says, Cooper’s presence is a massive factor for Leeds, particularly when you consider the importance their defence carries this season, with their attack not exactly firing on all cylinders at the minute.
With that in mind, Leeds will surely be delighted to have secured Cooper’s long-term future with the club following the new contract he signed with them earlier this season.