Leeds United v Southampton team news: Two changes as Liam Cooper makes full return

Liam Cooper starts but Kalvin Phillips and Joe Gelhardt are both on the bench for Leeds United's return to Premier League action against Southampton in Saturday's 3pm kick-off at Elland Road.

By Lee Sobot
Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 2:49 pm

Cooper and Phillips have not featured since both picked up hamstring injuries in the 2-2 draw at home to Brentford on December 5 although the duo both returned to the bench as unused substitutes for the clash at Molineux.

Whites boss Jesse Marsch provided an update regarding the pair at Thursday afternoon's pre-match press conference, saying that neither player was yet fully 90 minutes fit but that both were close.

The Leeds boss said he did not think he could start both players against the Saints as that would mean two substitutions already counted for in the likelihood that both would need to come off.

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ON THE BENCH: Leeds United's 19-year-old forward Joe Gelhardt. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.

Marsch has opted to start club captain Cooper as Pascal Struijk drops out of the side and on to the bench which again features star teen forward Gelhardt.

Gelhardt was being considered as a possible starter for the clash at Wolves before the international break only to suffer a back spasm and the teen forward was instead an unused substitute in an epic 3-2 victory.

Leeds saw four players forced off injured at Molineux including striker Patrick Bamford who is now facing around six weeks out with a ruptured plantar fascia.

Goalkeeper Illan Meslier, centre-back Diego Llorente and midfielder Mateusz Klich were also forced off at Wolves whilst star winger Raphinha missed the clash at Molineux having tested positive for Covid-19.

But all four of those players start as Raphinha replaces Bamford in the other change to the side which looks likely to feature Dan James upfront along with Rodrigo as Raphinha and Jack Harrison occupy the flanks.

Junior Firpo, Jamie Shackleton, Leo Hjelde and Tyler Roberts are all out injured along with Bamford.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has made four changes to his side that started the FA Cup clash against Manchester City as Jan Bednarek, Ibrahima Diallo, Che Adams and Armando Broja all start.

Jack Stephens, Stuart Armstrong, Adam Armstrong and Shane Long all drop to the bench which features Nathan Tella upon his return from injury.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Cooper, Dallas; Forshaw, Klich; Raphinha, Harrison; Rodrigo, James. Subs: Klaesson, Koch, Struijk, Cresswell, Phillips, Kenneh, Summerville, Greenwood, Gelhardt.

Southampton: Forster, Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Elyounoussi, Adams, Broja. Subs: Caballero, Valery, Perraud, Stephens, Smallbone, S Armstrong, Tella, Long, A Armstrong.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

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