Leeds United v Charlton Athletic: Cooper in to replace suspended captain

Jason Pearce.
Jason Pearce.
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Jason Pearce will lose the only ever-present record in Leeds United’s squad during tomorrow’s clash with Charlton Athletic but Adryan and Billy Sharp could both return as the club bid to end a seven-game winless streak.

United captain Pearce is set to serve a one-match suspension following his fifth yellow card of the season and his absence will hand Liam Cooper his first start in over a month.

Pearce had survived on four bookings for five league fixtures but he was punished for a trip on Adam Le Fondre after 10 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City. Cooper – a £600,000 signing from Chesterfield in August – is in line to step into the side tomorrow and partner Giuseppe Bellusci in the centre of a defence which head coach Neil Redfearn wants to tighten up after three soft concessions at Cardiff.

A late mix-up between Bellusci and goalkeeper Marco Silvestri gifted City a crucial third goal at a time when Leeds were pressing for an equaliser in the aftermath of Alex Mowatt’s 77th-minute strike.

Bruno Manga had earlier opened the scoring with a free header, six minutes before Federico Macheda beat Silvestri with a deflected finish.

Redfearn said: “Their first goal was the gutting one because we talked about not letting them get in or around our box too easily. We talked about making life difficult for them but the ball in wasn’t properly defended. The second goal’s a deflection but the lad (Macheda) still got time too easily, and obviously the third goal was a mistake.

“We’re losing Jason through suspension but Liam’s got a chance to come in and play well now. It’s a big game against Charlton.”

Brazilian midfielder Adryan was missing with a groin strain on Saturday but should feature against Charlton and Sharp is also close to a comeback after a fortnight out through injury. Midfielder Rudy Austin is unlikely to be fit until after the forthcoming international break, but is set to sit out both the visit of Charlton and Saturday’s meeting with Blackpool.

“Adryan’s got a slight groin strain,” Redfearn said. “I’m hoping it’s not too bad and the feeling is that he’ll be okay for tomorrow. Sharpy’s not too far away either.”

Tomorrow’s match is Redfearn first at home in his official capacity as United’s head coach.

The 49-year-old signed a 12-month rolling contract shortly before Saturday’s loss in Cardiff, accepting a deal which gives him the option of a second year in charge next summer or a return to his old job as academy manager. News of his appointment came on the same day as reports that owner Massimo Cellino was in talks with Formula 1 giants Red Bull about a possible takeover of the Elland Road club.

Cellino described the claims as “bulls***, a complete lie” while sources close to the Italian – United’s majority shareholder since April – told the YEP that he had been approached by agents claiming to represent Red Bull but was not interested in discussing the sale of his majority stake.

Redfearn spoke of his pride at securing the head coach’s job but called for “continuity” at Leeds after a number of turbulent years and a difficult start to the season. Saturday’s loss left Leeds 19th in the Championship, four points clear of the relegation places. Redfearn is already the club’s third permanent head coach this term.

“It’s does need continuity here and that takes time to build,” he said. “But we have to earn the right to continuity too. We have to pick up results.”

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