Leeds United: Scotland hopeful Cooper hails ‘honest’ head coach Evans

Liam Cooper
Liam Cooper
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Liam Cooper has described his Leeds United head coach Steve Evans as an “honest manager and good motivator” ahead of his potential full international debut for Scotland.

Cooper and Whites team-mate Liam Bridcutt could both feature for the Tartan Army in tonight’s home friendly with Denmark with the English-born footballers qualifying to represent the Scots side through their grandparents.

Five Whites players are currently away on international duty, with Stuart Dallas in action for Northern Ireland last night ahead of Lewis Cook’s latest outing with England Under-19s this evening and Mustapha Carayol’s Tuesday assignment with Gambia.

But it is domestic matters that are most pressing at Elland Road with another disappointing season in the Championship threatening to leave United chairman Massimo Cellino seeking yet another managerial change.

Evans’ position as head coach came under increased scrutiny following Leeds’ latest fixture which resulted in a toothless 4-1 defeat at home to Huddersfield Town – the team’s second alarming demise in five games following the recent 4-0 hammering at Brighton.

But Cooper has defended the head coach whose influence has led to his maiden Scotland call ahead of tonight’s potential full international debut at Hampden Park.

United chairman Cellino has said he will make a decision on Evans’ future at the end of the season, and Cooper said: “He’s just an honest manager, he’s a good motivator.

“He gets the boys up for the game. He’s honest with us, he keeps us going all the time and we just buy into that.

“Of course I understand the level of interest in the club.

“It’s a massive club and obviously the media are interested in everything.

“We just concentrate on what we’ve got to do on the pitch, we turn a blind eye to what’s going on off the pitch.

“We try to do our best for the club, the supporters and the management staff.”

Cooper will now attempt to emulate his current international manager in excelling for both Leeds United and Scotland.

Tartan Army boss Gordon Strachan forms part of a rich tradition of Whites players to have represented Scotland and Cooper admits he takes huge inspiration from his club’s history. Cooper explained: “We have a pre-match meal in the room above the changing room.

“There’s photos of the manager there, and it’s not hard to notice how short the shorts were back then, plenty of leg on display!

“The team the manager was a part of was great, full of legends of football.

“You can’t get out of the way of the past involving the manager and the other Scots. It’s everywhere. It’s not so much at the training ground. But once you get to Elland Road, it’s an old stadium, there’s pictures everywhere of all the greats.

“We’re always aware of the link and the success they had.

“It helps provide added inspiration for us when we look at the pictures and see the achievements of the manager and the other great players from the past.”

Cooper will now get his opportunity to shine for the Tartan Army as a 24-year-old, who initially looked like breaking into the Scotland fold as a Hull City player in 2008 and 2009.

The centre-back made five appearances for Scotland under-17s and one for Scotland under-19s, but admitted: “I definitely thought my chance might’ve passed.

“I’d played for the under-17s and under-19s.

“I wanted to see my international career progressing through with the under-21s. But that wasn’t to happen.

“At the back of my head I did think my chance of a full call-up had probably gone.

“It’s been really good to be a part of it all and now I’m really hoping I can get my first cap.

“I’ve done well to get the call-up, but it doesn’t stop there.

“Now I’ve got to go and prove myself that I can play at this level.

“I’m a player who will always wear his heart on his sleeve, I’ll always give my all.

“Hopefully that will show.”