Leeds United: Cook foregoes England U19 call-up for full pre-season

Leeds United midfielder Lewis Cook
Leeds United midfielder Lewis Cook
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Lewis Cook will miss this summer’s European Under-19 Championship after being told by Garry Monk to remain with Leeds United for the whole of their pre-season campaign.

Cook was expected to be named in the England squad for next month’s tournament in Germany but Monk has pulled the midfielder out of contention, saying his absence would be “detrimental to the player and detrimental to myself and the team.”

The Euros run until July 24, a schedule which would potentially have limited Cook to one summer appearance with Leeds before the start of the new Championship season.

All four of the friendlies announced by United so far are scheduled before that date.

Monk, who was appointed as Leeds head coach at the start of this month, is preparing for his first season at Elland Road, the seventh team boss in two years under club owner Massimo Cellino.

The former Swansea City manager admitted to being “the villain in this” by insisting on Cook’s withdrawal but he said both Cook and England Under-19 coach Aidy Boothroyd had accepted his decision.

Cook took part in Monk's first session of pre-season training yesterday but was originally due to depart once England announced their Under-19 squad on July 6.

Monk told United’s official website: “It was a very difficult decision. I spoke to Lewis and told him how important he is to this team and for the project going forward.

“I just felt that to miss him for pretty much the whole of pre-season would be detrimental to the player and detrimental to myself and the team.

“I took the decision. Talking to the player, I made him very aware of the reasons why and he fully understood. I spoke to Aidy Boothroyd and he understood.

“Of course they wanted Lewis to be there with them but it’s a decision I’ve had to take. I’ll play the villain in this but it was for the right reasons. England understand that and Lewis understands that. I think it’s what’s best for us.”

Monk’s insistence is a clear sign that Cook - the Football League’s young player of the year last term - will be central to his plans for the forthcoming season.

The 19-year-old has been heavily involved in the last two campaigns after fighting his way into the first team in 2014.

Cook was part of the England squad which won the European Under-17 Championship that year, an achievement which preceded his breakthrough at Elland Road.

He will pass 100 appearance for the club next season and Monk said he was cautioning against burnout.

“Another part of it is the amount of football he’s played for such a young lad,” Monk said. “You have to protect the player.

“I’ve never stopped a player playing for his country, it’s one of the best things you can achieve in your career. But this is a unique situation and it’ll probably never happen again.

“Had Lewis already worked for me for 12 months, I’d have been quite happy for him to go there because he’d know how I work and what I want to put in place. Because he doesn’t have that idea, it’s crucial that he’s here and he’s getting that information straightaway from day one.

“It’s not an easy thing to accept but he was great with it. He understood the reasons why and he agrees with my decision and understands that he needs to be here.”