By Sean Fisher

20th Sep, 2022 | 11:40am

Liam Cooper opens up on 'nightmare' pre-season and injury struggles at Leeds United

Liam Cooper was forced to the sidelines before Leeds United even started their season, and he suffered another setback while on the brink of a return.

Leeds’ pre-season tour of Australia couldn’t have gone worse for club captain Cooper, who suffered a freak Achilles injury that left him sidelined for the opening weeks of the Premier League calendar.

Cooper eventually recovered and made his comeback in Leeds’ Carabao Cup clash against Burnley, but he suffered another setback, meaning he’s still yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Yorkshire side.

During his recent appearance on The Official Leeds United Podcast, Cooper opened up on his unlucky start to the season.

“Obviously my pre-season has been a bit of a nightmare. I picked the injury up when I was training in the off season and it wasn’t quite right when I was in Australia,” said Cooper, as quoted by Leeds Live.

“I’ve been struggling and picked a few injuries up, getting back up top speed, but this is probably my first full week training this week. I’m looking forward to getting back and helping the team as much as I can.”

Invaluable leadership

Even when not on the pitch, Cooper’s leadership and presence in the dressing room can’t be emphasised enough.

The 31-year-old has been at Elland Road for eight years now, and was made captain during his first season at the club. If that doesn’t speak volumes about his leadership then nothing does.

With Robin Koch, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk all pushing for starts in the heart of defence, Cooper may have to settle for more of a part-time role under Jesse Marsch this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less essential than he was before.

The club has a number of new signings and youth players coming into the first team, and Cooper will be pivotal in terms of helping them settle down and gel as a squad.

His time as a mainstay in the starting XI may be coming to an end, but Marsch will be keen to hold on to Cooper for as long as possible.

In other Leeds United news, Patrick Bamford reveals he “had a go” at U21s star during 6-2 win v Southampton