HEAD COACH Thomas Christiansen has applauded Liam Cooper’s Scotland international call, despite admitting the prospect of extra games for his defender is “not the best” for Leeds United’.
Centre-back Cooper has only recently returned from a minor back injury picked up in the 2-0 win at home to Birmingham City and the defender has now been called into Scotland’s squad for the Tartan Army’s World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and Slovenia.
Gordon Strachan’s side will welcome Slovakia to Hampden Park on Thursday, October 5 before visiting Slovenia on Sunday, October 8 – six days before United will return to action after the international break with a home clash against Reading. Hull-born Cooper – who qualifies to play for Scotland through his grandparents – has yet to be capped, but has now been included in his second squad after first joining Strachan’s pool of players in March.
The Whites centre-back joins a growing list of internationals at United and Christiansen believes Cooper’s call-up is richly deserved, even if the prospect of a busy October for the 26-year-old is hardly ideal for United’s head coach.
“Last year he didn’t have too much time in the (Leeds) squad,” said Christiansen of Cooper. “This season he has started in the first XI, he has done well, he is the captain and he is a player that has shown he has character and is a good team player. Am I happy that he is with the national team? Of course, for him to be recognised that he is doing well. But that will give him probably also some more games so for me that’s not the best but I can only be happy for my players.”
On Cooper, Strachan said: “He’s playing well. He’s playing in a winning side and he is a big influence on the side, he is the captain now. That’s big progress for Leeds, which is good, and himself. I probably should have had him in the last squad to be honest but I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake again. Because of his performances, he is back in the squad. He has been highly-rated by my scouting staff and myself over the past couple of months.”
He has started in the first XI, he has done well, he is the captain and he is a player that has shown he has character and is a good team player.Thomas Christiansen on Liam Cooper