(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Leeds were handed a major boost this week with Liam Cooper returning to training. The captain has missed our last two games, but perhaps could be in contention to feature this weekend.

If Marcelo Bielsa has no concerns, he will almost definitely start. Leeds have conceded one goal in around 250 minutes since Cooper limped off at Sheffield United, but Kalvin Phillips is not a natural centre-back.

On the other hand, it is possible that he is not in contention for Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa.

But should Leeds feel that Cooper has a chance of featuring, perhaps Bielsa should consider a cautious approach that sees Phillips remain alongside Pontus Jansson.

If there was a game where Leeds would need two natural centre-backs, it would be Villa. Dean Smith’s men are scoring for fun at the moment, and will unquestionably test Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

 

But if Cooper is not fully fit and there is a chance that he could do himself more harm by playing, then Leeds must consider being cautious.

We sit six points clear of third. Whatever happens on Sunday, Leeds will be in the automatic-promotion spots over Christmas.

Bielsa can afford to put out a weaker defence. If Leeds lose, they have enough of a cushion to put it behind them immediately.

Losing Cooper for longer would arguably be a worse outcome for Leeds than a defeat at this point. And it is, by no means, a guarantee either, that Leeds will lose with Phillips playing alongside Jansson.

If Cooper is ready, then that is fantastic for Leeds. But Bielsa should not be afraid to avoid taking a gamble on the skipper.

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