Leeds United: Evans wants to limit Cook’s England U-19s involvement

Lewis Cook.

Lewis Cook.

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Leeds United have asked England Under-19 coach Aidy Boothroyd to limit Lewis Cook’s involvement in three forthcoming European qualifiers after leaving the midfielder out of their line-up for the 4-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town.

United head coach Steve Evans said he had sought assurances that Cook would not play in all of England’s elite-stage matches against Georgia, Greece and Spain amid fears of burn-out with Leeds’ 19-year-old prospect.

Cook was given a rare break from United’s starting line-up in yesterday’s West Yorkshire derby, named on the bench by Evans who said the youngster had been “on his knees” after a 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers seven days earlier.

Evans used him as a second-half substitute but Leeds were well beaten by Huddersfield as three goals in the space of eight minutes handed victory to David Wagner’s side at Elland Road.

Cook, however, is one of a number of United players heading for international duty with the Championship breaking for the next fortnight.

England’s Under-19s are preparing for three fixtures in Spain, beginning with Georgia on Thursday. They meet Greece on Saturday before facing hosts Spain next Tuesday, five days before Leeds resume their Championship term away at Rotherham United.

The England squad are fighting to secure a place at this summer’s finals in Germany, a tournament which Cook – already in possession of a Euro Under-18 Championship winners’ medal – is in line to appear in.

But the teenager has amassed 37 first-team appearances for his club this season and Evans said: “Cooky’s scheduled for three games. I’ve already made a request that we don’t send this boy into three games.

“They’re big games for England at that level and I appreciate the task those guys have got but we’ve got a young boy here who we’ve put on the bench for the right reasons. I’d expect England to be looking at that closely and dealing with it.

“Hopefully he goes away, gets a game and a half or whatever it is, and comes back ready for more action at Leeds United.”

Despite Leeds’ recent run of three straight league wins, Evans made two changes for the visit of Huddersfield, resting Cook and naming Toumani Diagouraga on the bench due to concerns about Diagouraga’s fitness.

Evans said: “Toumani was straightforward. He was struggling late in the game at Blackburn. He trained but to my eyesight he trained a bit gingerly so I wasn’t sure whether to put him out there from the start.

“Cook was on his knees after Blackburn. He looked half-a -ard down in training but we thought he might be the difference when we introduced him. It proved not to be the case but that was the thought process.”