Leeds United’s defensive resources have been cut to the bone with Uwe Rosler unable to say when Charlie Taylor or Liam Cooper will return to his first-team plans.
Left-back Taylor missed Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton with a virus and Leeds have already ruled the 22-year-old out of Wednesday night’s trip to Fulham.
Rosler did not discuss Taylor’s illness in detail but appeared to indicate that the youngster – one of United’s most consistent players this season – could be absent for an extended period of time.
Cooper is also undergoing assessments after limping out of the Brighton loss at a crucial stage of the game with a knee injury. The centre-back was hurt in the closing stages and despite indicating that he would play on, he broke down in obvious pain as he tried to put weight on his injured leg.
Leeds had used all three substitutes by then and reduced to 10 men, Rosler’s side were picked off by an 89th-minute winner from veteran Brighton striker Bobby Zamora.
Cooper, who claimed United’s goal with a header in the first half, is not expected to recover in time for the visit to Fulham, leaving head coach Rosler to turn to either Giuseppe Bellusci or Scott Wootton at Craven Cottage.
Bellusci has featured only sporadically since August and last played during a 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, a match in which he scored an own goal. Wootton started at right-back against Brighton after Taylor’s untimely absence forced a defensive reshuffle.
Rosler said: “Liam was fantastic, his best game since I joined the club. Not only because he scored the goal but because of the way he defended. He showed authority on the pitch and then that happens to him.
“He wanted to continue but he couldn’t walk. It doesn’t look good but I don’t want to make any speculation because it’s not the right thing to do.”
Taylor’s illness ended his ever-present record in Rosler’s line-up and the loss of the in-form academy product is another bitter blow for the club’s head coach. Gaetano Berardi replaced him at left-back against Brighton with Wootton filling on the other side of defence, preferred to Sam Byram.
The two fresh set-backs come in the wake of the broken ankle suffered by second-choice goalkeeper Ross Turnbull in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Thorp Arch a fortnight ago.
“Charlie has a virus infection,” Rosler said. “Charlie has been one of our best players.”
Rosler was unable to give a timescale for Taylor’s possible return but confirmed that he would miss the clash with Fulham.
Captain Sol Bamba, meanwhile, remains one booking away from a one-match ban.