Liam Cooper hails 'stronger' Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa with Ben White destined for the top

Leeds United defender Liam Cooper.
Leeds United defender Liam Cooper.
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Captain Liam Cooper is confident Leeds United now have a stronger squad than last year with the defender hailing the club's new arrivals including a defensive partner destined for the top.

Leeds will return to action after the September international break with Sunday's Championship clash at Barnsley which third-placed United approach sat one point worse off than at this stage last year.

Cooper, though, says there is no doubting that United's squad is better than the one that narrowly missed out on promotion last season following the loan signings of Ben White, Helder Costa, Eddie Nketiah and Illan Meslier in the summer.

Leeds also reloaned Jack Harrison from Manchester City whilst taking new Tottenham Hotspur signing Jack Clarke back on loan and Cooper is also heartened by the fact that both Luke Ayling and Tyler Roberts are also "close" to making a return.

Roberts has not featured since April after a knee injury while Ayling has played no part so far this season having had surgery on an ankle problem in the summer.

Cooper has also been hugely impressed with his new centre-back partner White who joined on a season-long loan from Brighton with the 21-year-old seamlessly filling the void left by Pontus Jansson who was sold to Brentford.

"I think the squad is definitely stronger," said Cooper.

"We have brought top quality players in and we have got players coming back from injury now as well.

"I think Luke and Tyler are both close and the squad is so much stronger in depth.

"We have got two or three players for every position at the minute and that's what Marcelo has always wanted.

"The lads will be pushing us, obviously the lads are not going to come straight back into the team but that competition for places is unbelievable and it's what you want as a player.

"You can't really have too many off days because you know someone is chomping at the bit behind you to get back in the team."

Assessing the impact made by White at centre-back, Cooper said: "It's a pleasure to play alongside him.

"I have had a lot of people say to me how good is he and I have said he is top, he is going to be unbelievable.

"He's 21 years old and he plays the game as if he has played 600 league games.

"He's so calm on the ball and it helps us.

"It oozes confidence through us and he's been unbelievable so far but it's a 46 game season and he's got to keep his head right and keep his attitude right and he'll go on to have an amazing career."