The injury bug has hit Leeds United again, as captain Liam Cooper will be out for six weeks after knee surgery while Stuart Dallas will be out for four to six weeks after breaking his foot.
More injury blows for Leeds United - Liam Cooper out for up to six weeks after knee surgery today. Stuart Dallas out for 4-6 weeks with a fractured foot. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 5, 2018
Cooper went off injured against Sheffield United, and given the reaction of the centreback from an off-the-ball injury, most people feared the worst. And while six weeks is better than the rest of the year, as it would be with a torn MCL or ACL or something similar, it’s still not great news.
Dallas, the winger-turned-fullback, had been improving lately, with some of the best performances of the season turned in by the Northern Ireland international over the past two weeks. Dallas had been forced into duty at fullback to cover for both Barry Douglas and Luke Ayling, both of which have been injured this season. Douglas is back in the team, but Ayling is still out.
These injures will further test an already thin defence for Leeds. Pontus Jansson is now the only fit senior central defender on the roster, with Academy player Aapo Halme now almost certainly drafted into first team action to help plug the holes. Halme has played first team football for HJK Helsinki in Finland before joining Leeds last January, so he’s got to at least do the duty until the January transfer window opens next month. Gaetano Berardi is also out with a long-term injury, and there hasn’t been an update with an exact date as to when to expect him.
Dallas’ injury also leaves Leeds short at fullbacks, as Luke Ayling is out injured and England U21 left back Tom Pearce still injured as well. Jamie Shackleton has come in a few times and played at right back, but he’s central midfielder that can play out there in a pinch.
Leeds might have to recall some of their loan players in Paudie O’Connor, the centre back who is currently at Blackpool FC on loan, centre backLiam Kitching, who is at Harrogate Town, and Lewie Coyle, the fullback who is impressing on loan at Fleetwood Town.
If Leeds don’t recall any loanees, then the team has to dip into the January market to find adequate replacements or depth in defence, as there is no way this team can survive the marathon of the Championship with this many injured players, especially with the FA Cup coming up soon as well.