Leeds United: Captain Cooper confident few – if any – Championship teams will match the Whites for fitness this season

Leeds United captain, Liam Cooper (right). PIC:: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United captain, Liam Cooper (right). PIC:: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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CAPTAIN Liam Cooper says Leeds United are the fittest team in the Championship under Marcelo Bielsa with the defender warning next opponents Millwall that Leeds will “come out firing” after the international break.

United signed off for two weeks with Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash against Middlesbrough at Elland Road in which a goalless draw kept unbeaten Leeds top and ahead of Boro on goal difference with a two-point gap back to third.

Millwall had plenty to smile about in the corresponding fixture with Leeds at The Den last September. PIC: James Hardisty

Millwall had plenty to smile about in the corresponding fixture with Leeds at The Den last September. PIC: James Hardisty

Leeds also topped the table in September last year only to fall away and finish 13th, and Cooper is keen for United to concentrate on matters one game at a time with the Whites back in action a week on Saturday at nemesis-hosts Millwall. The Whites have slumped to defeat on eight of their last nine visits to The Den and a 1-0 reverse under former head coach Thomas Christiansen when United were top last September proved the first defeat of seven of United’s subsequent nine league games.

With last season in mind, Cooper is reluctant to make any wild predictions but the Whites captain can say for certain that a painstaking summer of triple sessions under Bielsa has left United the fittest team in the division.

“One thing we know this season is that we are fitter than any team in the league and it’s a great feeling to have,” said Cooper.

“It’s unbelievable knowing that you are going to run over teams in the second half and if the going gets tough and it’s the last dying stages.”

Reflecting on United’s stellar start and position at the top of the division, Cooper said: “It’s brilliant but our biggest thing is that we’ve been here before with the start last year and that’s the biggest thing for me.

“I know the lads will have learned from last season and it’s game by game – the next one is the biggest game of our season and we are looking forward to it.

“Millwall is the next game so it’s the biggest game of our season and that’s the way we have got to approach it.

“They are in our way, they will want to beat us and we know what a hard place it is to go and we will be preparing properly and we will come out the blocks firing.”