Middlesbrough v Leeds United: Cooper back but is set to be on bench

Liam Cooper
Liam Cooper
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Liam Cooper will return from injury at Middlesbrough on Saturday but Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn is not planning to break up the central-defensive partnership of Giuseppe Bellusci and Sol Bamba.

Cooper has recovered from the hip problem which kept him out of United’s wins over Reading and Millwall and he is set to regain his place in Redfearn’s matchday squad after completing a full week of training.

The 23-year-old lost his place at centre-back by Bellusci and also passed the captain’s armband to new signing Bamba, and the form of those two players in back-to-back victories will keep Cooper out of Leeds’ starting line-up at The Riverside.

Bamba has overcome a slight hamstring strain and trained yesterday without any recurrence.

“We’ve got Coops back fit and he’s trained this week,” Redfearn said.

“Sol had a little bit of a hamstring problem but he trained and he seems to have come through fine.

“I’ve got three good players for two spots but the lads who’ve been in there have done well so it’ll probably be the case that they stay in. But they’ve got to play well.”

Tommaso Bianchi is begin his rehabilitation after undergoing knee surgery but United are increasingly confident that the Italian midfielder will be fit to play again this term.

“Bianchi’s had his operation and it’s not as bad as first feared,” Redfearn said. “I’m hoping he’ll be back before the end of the season.”

Paul Heckingbottom.

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