Lewis Cook’s guilt at Doncaster Rovers was never in dispute. The midfielder took his red card without protest and his head coach offered no defence.
For the duration of a three-match ban, Cook digested an uncomfortable lesson.
His dismissal in Leeds United’s League Cup defeat was the first of his career and a misdemeanour which Cook genuinely plans to avoid repeating. Yellow and red cards might come his way in future but the 18-year-old knows the consequences of inviting them. “I’ve learned not to dive in,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done it.”
Cook’s suspension ended after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, allowing him to play in a development squad game at Elland Road on Monday night. Uwe Rosler, United’s boss, was careful not to chide Cook too fiercely after his sending off at Doncaster and the England youth international will return to Rosler’s squad for Saturday’s trip to Derby County. He looked sharp enough on Monday to merit a start.
His infringement at the Keepmoat Stadium on August 13 was a split-second error of judgement, ending in a two-footed tackle on Rovers’ left-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair late in the first half. With 10 men, Leeds went on to lose the first round tie on penalties but Rosler protected Cook afterwards, saying it would be wrong to be “too harsh” on the youngster.
Behind close doors the message was similar. “The way he approached it, I thought it was right,” Cook said. “I got a b******ing from him, just a little one, but after that he was great. He just said ‘it’s a learning curve and you’ll learn from this. Make sure you do.’ It felt like the right way to go about things.
“It’s not like me but it all happened so quickly. I remember getting nudged off the ball and I was a bit off balance but I did dive in. I knew straight away. I won’t do that again.”