Marcelo Bielsa faces a major defensive headache on Monday when Leeds United clash with reigning Premier League champions Liverpool at Elland Road.
A Stuart Dallas double downed Manchester City on Saturday to secure a shock 2-1 win but victory did not come without cost.
Liam Cooper was handed his marching orders on the stroke of half-time for a challenge on Gabriel Jesus and a straight red card for dangerous foul play warrants a three-match suspension.
Leeds Live reporter Beren Cross says it is “highly unlikely” that the club will appeal the ban so that means an enforced change in the Whites backline for the visit of Jurgen Klopp and co.
Pascal Struijk was the player handed the responsibility of filling the void left by our captain at the Etihad Stadium, as he was brought on for Patrick Bamford following Cooper’s dismissal.
The 21-year-old performed admirably to restrict Pep Guardiola’s side to just one goal but we think it’s time to bring back Robert Koch from starting XI obscurity.
The summer signing from Freiburg has had a pretty miserable time of it since he moved to West Yorkshire as he has been limited to just 11 Premier League starts.
That is mainly due to an injury he suffered at Chelsea on December 5 which ruled him out of the following 16 games and he has only made three brief outings from the bench since.
However we splurged £11.5million [Daily Mail] on him for a reason, and that was to form a formidable centre-half partnership with fellow summer recruit Diego Llorente.
At 24, Koch has been bought for the here and now as well as the future and his wealth of experience and physical qualities surely gets him the nod over Struijk for now.
Italy international Vincenzo Grifo, who played with Koch at former club Freiburg, waxed lyrical about the German defender to The Athletic last year.
“He’s on a path to become a world-class player, a monster centre-back,” he said.
We’ve witnessed this ‘monster’ in short spurts but we want an extended look at him before next season and now is the perfect time to reintroduce him back into the fold with Cooper sidelined for three games.
Koch is a Germany international and he will surely be desperate to play in this summer’s European Championships and he knows a strong showing will be required for him to be included in their star-studded squad.
This desperation to impress can only serve us well and if he is to partner Llorente in the long term we want them to get some experience together, and that should start from Monday versus Liverpool.
In other Leeds United news, Alan Shearer lauds ‘Outstanding’ Whites ace v Man City in double Leeds Team of the Week pick.