Whelan verdict on Cooper being left out of Leeds XI v Tottenham after ’embarrassing’ display

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Noel Whelan has tipped Liam Cooper to start on the Leeds United bench against Tottenham this weekend. 

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk were let down by their teammates in an “embarrassing” defeat to Brighton.

Cooper has sat out Leeds’ last three games through suspension after being sent off just before half-time against Manchester City.

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Struijk took his place against Pep Guardiola’s side and helped the Whites to a 2-1 win.

The 21-year-old then started in draws with Manchester United and Liverpool before last week’s defeat to the Seagulls.

Whelan blamed the likes of midfielders Robin Koch and Mateusz Klich for failing to support the defence against Brighton.

As such, he suggested Llorente and Struijk should keep their places this weekend.

Asked if he thought Cooper would start on Saturday, Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “No, not really. I think Struijk is one of the players that did okay.

“If you’ve got seven or eight players playing 6/10, which the majority of them were, no better than that, you’re going to make people work harder like the defence.

“The thing about Struijk and Llorente is that they’re growing together. They need better help in front of them and they didn’t have that the other day. We were absolutely shocking all of the field. I mean it was embarrassing how badly we actually played at the weekend.

“We were never even in the game, it wasn’t a competition for Brighton. It was a very easy stroll on Brighton Beach for Brighton. We were absolutely shocking. We should have been going into the game full of confidence, chests puffed out. It was disastrous.

“We need a better performance but I’m not sure whether Liam Cooper should come back into the side. I think he needs to wait his turn.”

Struijk and Cooper have both played 23 Premier League games this season.

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The 21-year-old has filled in for the club captain, as well as the likes of Llorente and Koch, when injury has struck.

Cooper has missed 11 games through injury or suspension this term but is yet to start on the bench.

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