Leeds United boss optimistic over defender’s injury fears

Liam Cooper. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Liam Cooper. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Thomas Christiansen allayed fears that Liam Cooper might be set for an extended lay-off after a patched-up defence held off Fulham in a 0-0 draw at Elland Road on Tuesday.

United’s backline restricted Fulham to one shot on target despite the absence of three senior players through injury and a shortage which prompted Christiansen to hand 20-year-old Conor Shaughnessy a full league debut in the centre of defence.

Thomas Christiansen. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Thomas Christiansen. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Shaughnessy stepped in after Cooper was ruled out of Tuesday’s game, leaving United with Pontus Jansson as their only out-and-out centre-back.

Cooper was hurt in the second half of Saturday’s goalless clash with Preston North End but a separate problem sustained in training forced him to miss Fulham’s visit to Elland Road.

Christiansen’s defensive resources were already stretched following injuries to Matthew Pennington and Gaetano Berardi on the opening weekend of the Championship season but Cooper has a chance of recovering for this Saturday’s game at Sunderland.

Asked if the 25-year-old would be out for an extended period, Christiansen said: “No, I don’t believe so.

Conor Shaughnessy.  PIC: Tony Johnson

Conor Shaughnessy. PIC: Tony Johnson

“He had a problem before the game and I decided not to take a risk with him but I believe it’s nothing serious.”

Christiansen was able to recall Rob Green on Tuesday after the goalkeeper missed two previous matches with a minor knee problem.

Midfielder Ronaldo Vieira, however, failed to make the 18-man squad as Christiansen included Liam Bridcutt and Mateusz Klich ahead of him.

The United boss is re-assessing his options ahead of his side’s trip to the Stadium of Light, where Leeds will attempt to extend a four-match unbeaten run.

“I’m looking forward to Sunderland,” Christiansen said. “They’re another team who will put us under (pressure) and for us to measure our level against.”