By Mark Smith

18th Dec, 2019 | 8:30pm

BBC pundit expects Leeds to make this switch in Fulham clash

Saturday’s 3-3 draw was the first time where Leeds United would have accepted that they missed Liam Cooper in his latest absence.

That isn’t a complaint towards the Scotsman. It is more praise towards Gaetano Berardi who played vital roles in wins over Hull City and Huddersfield Town.

Cardiff’s aerial dominance came into play in the recent collapse though, and many believed that would not have happened should Cooper have been fully fit.

Noel Whelan admitted that he expects Leeds’ captain to return immediately to the starting line up on Saturday against Fulham.

“It’s a huge boost to have Liam back,” the BBC pundit told Football Insider.

“He will come straight back into the side, without a shadow of a doubt.

“We are very much lacking a top header of the ball at the back and that was the killer against Cardiff last Saturday. Cardiff knew Leeds’ weakness was balls into the box from crosses and set-pieces, and they were far more dominant in those areas.

“It’s big news that Liam’s fit again. He is more aggressive and dominant in the air than the other Leeds defenders.

“Berardi will drop out of the team, and Liam and Ben White will pair up again to combine in what is the best centre-back partnership in the Championship.”

There is no doubting Cooper’s relationship with Ben White – the duo at the heart of Leeds having the best defensive record in Europe’s top five divisions and the football league.

Whelan is spot on to suggest that he will come straight back into the side at Craven Cottage. Leeds lacked leadership against Cardiff last time out, and that is exactly what the 28-year-old brings in abundance.

In other Leeds United news, ‘Get in’, ‘Big plus’ – Some Leeds fans thrilled with ‘Massive’ update on first-team star