By Kealan Hughes

28th Feb, 2021 | 3:40pm

BBC journalist Adam Pope thinks Liam Cooper has been scapegoated

Leeds United fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa and after the match BBC Radio Leeds journalist Adam Pope felt the need to defend one player.

He suggests that Liam Cooper is harshly treated by the fans at times, and does not deserve the criticism he gets.

Cooper has had to cope with numerous changes to his centre-back partnership due to injuries this season – that surely cannot be easy.

He has still helped Leeds keep five clean sheets in the 20 league games he has played, which may be a reason behind Pope’s defence.

Premier League Liam

Cooper is an easy target of criticism for supporters but the reality is that he, like many others, has done very well this season.

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It is his first taste of the big time but he has never been made to look silly or like he does not belong.

At times he has held the defence together when partnered with Luke Ayling to his right and Gjanni Alioski to his left.

Despite that, he has averaged a rating of 7.1 per WhoScored, averaging 2.9 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game.

It is time the unfair nickname of ‘League One Liam’ is dropped.

The fact Pope felt the need to defend Cooper after the Aston Villa game is surprising.

The skipper made three tackles and won five aerial duels on Saturday (WhoScored) – the scoreline could have been worse without his presence.

He also provides valuable leadership and that is particularly important when Kalvin Phillips is out, as he has been recently.

We should be showing our players more support and remember that we have defied expectations this season – not castigating players when they do not even deserve it.

In other Leeds United news, MOT View: Possession lost 19x – Bold Bielsa decision backfired in Leeds defeat to Aston Villa.