Leeds United: Whites ace Cook is fit and raring to go for the Euros

Lewis Cook
Lewis Cook
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Lewis Cook expects to be fully fit for next month’s European Under-19 Championship and is confident that he will return to England in perfect shape for the start of Leeds United’s new season.

The midfielder was forced to withdraw from England’s Under-19 squad for recent warm-up matches against Mexico with a bruised toe but he is set to be included in coach Aidy Boothroyd’s travel party for the European finals.

Cook, who was part of the England squad which won the Under-17 Championship two years ago, has featured regularly under Boothroyd but was left out of back to back friendlies in Mexico as a precaution at the start of this month.

The finals in Germany, where England will face France, Holland and Croatia in Group B, run from July 11 to July 24 and Boothroyd has training camps planned in the lead-up to their opening fixture.

New United head coach Garry Monk, meanwhile, has ordered his players to return for pre-season training at Thorp Arch during the last week of this month and Cook’s international duties will see him miss a large chunk of the club’s schedule.

But Cook said: “The latest we could come back from the Euros is around July 25 but I feel I’ll be match-fit and ready to go after the tournament. That’s a good thing.

“I had a slight bruise on my toe (before the Mexico friendlies) and the physio team thought it was best to leave that trip and prepare right for the finals.

“I’m just trying to get fit for the Euros in July and I’ve been keeping myself ticking over to make sure I’m ready for that.”

Despite his young age and having only one previous season of senior football behind him, Cook started more league games than any other Leeds player during the 2015-16 season, appearing 47 times in all competitions.

Former head coach Steve Evans expressed fears about the midfielder burning out amid a flood of club and international qualifying fixtures in March but Cook remained central to United’s campaign and collected the Football League’s prestigious young player of the year award in April.

The 19-year-old is about to enter to the last year of his contract at Elland Road and is not believed to have been offered an extension by Leeds yet.

Monk, however, has spoken of the need to retain United’s young players following his appointment as head coach.

Left-back Charlie Taylor, who is a target for West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and Crystal Palace, and midfielder Alex Mowatt are also 12 months away from the end of their current deals.

Cook claimed Monk as the “right man for the job”, saying: “It excites you. I know he wants us to score a lot of goals, create a lot of opportunities and play exciting football. It should be fun for us and fun for the fans.

“I think we’ve got a really good squad at Leeds which should be higher in the table and pushing for promotion. Hopefully with the right guidance and the right attitude we can push to get there.”