HEAD COACH Garry Monk has labelled Liam Cooper’s six-game ban as “incredibly harsh” but insists the defender still has an important part to play for Leeds United in the remainder of the current campaign.
Cooper will miss all but one of United’s regular remaining league games after being handed the six-match ban by the FA who found the defender guilty of stamping on Reece Oxford in Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Reading.
Leeds argued that the incident was reckless yet not intentional but Cooper’s ban started with Tuesday night’s clash at Brentford and the defender will not be free to return for Leeds until the final fixture of the regular season – at Wigan Athletic on Sunday, May 7.
But while admitting that he felt the severity of the defender’s punishment was unjust, Monk insists the defender will continue to play an important part for Leeds in training, and when the 25-year-old finally returns.
As well as being eligible to feature on the final day at Wigan, Cooper could still have a key role to play in the Championship play-offs should fifth-placed Leeds keep their place in the division’s top six.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Preston North End, Monk said of Cooper’s ban: “I think it’s incredibly harsh to be honest – the length of the ban.
“But it’s a situation that we have to face.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, we have to accept it and get on with it.
“I’m disappointed for Liam but he’s an important player and he will have an important role to play even with this suspension.
“He’s an important member of the group and we will make sure he is ready for when he is available again.
“It’s frustrating and you don’t want to lose any player.
“Liam is a leader among the group and he is still going to play that role.
“We just feel disappointed for him.
“But it’s a situation that we have to get on with and we have faced situations throughout the season with injuries and suspension.
“You have to get on with it and it’s the same again.”