By MOT Leeds News speaking to Paul Robinson

19th Mar, 2021 | 3:01pm

'Major blow' – Exclusive: Pundit reacts to early Leeds team news ahead of clash v Fulham

We’re delighted to welcome former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Leeds United 

Paul Robinson has said that it’s a major blow for Leeds after Liam Cooper was ruled out of the game against Fulham through illness, thought to be Covid-related.

Leeds won’t comment on Covid-related issues but Athletic journalist Phil Hay said, “Liam Cooper’s still ill, our understanding is that it’s Covid although the club aren’t talking about that and Bielsa never comments on it either.” [The Phil Hay Show podcast]

That’s seen Cooper left out of the final Scotland squad ahead of the delayed Euros this summer, too.

Robinson said Leeds will have an even bigger problem if Patrick Bamford doesn’t make the game tonight.

He said that with Rodrigo likely missing as well it would mean Tyler Roberts starting up top.

Bamford is expected to be fit to play but was missing from the latest Leeds training video and limped out of the Chelsea game last weekend.

Talking exclusively to MOT Leeds News Robinson said, “You’ve got to hope that Bamford is fit.

“It highlights this age-old problem Leeds have got around two players, Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips.

“When either one of these players are out they just don’t have a replacement and it’s a case of square pegs in round holes.

“If Bamford does miss out it would be a huge blow to Leeds – he’s as important to Leeds as Harry Kane is to Tottenham. But, just because he wasn’t in training doesn’t mean he’s not playing.

“With Rodrigo out, it’s even more of an issue. If he’s not fit then you’d be looking at Tyler Roberts up top.

“As for Cooper, it’s not been confirmed he’s got Covid but it doesn’t look like a foolproof plan to not say anything.

“If he’s injured they say so. You can see through it. It’s a major blow for him and for Leeds, and you hope that he recovers from it quickly.”

Bamford missed out on the England squad but was in contention and that makes us think he will be fit for tonight’s game.

If he is, Tyler Roberts will likely start in the number 10 position, with Rodrigo an injury doubt.

With Cooper out, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk will be tasked with stopping Fulham from scoring – they bagged three in a thrilling 4-3 win for Leeds in the reverse fixture.

In other Leeds United news, Kalvin Phillips sends message to Leeds fans ahead of Friday night clash in London