UWE ROSLER allayed fears of a serious injury to Lewis Cook after the midfielder limped out of Leeds United’s friendly defeat to Hoffenheim.
United’s head coach said Cook was withdrawn as a “precaution” during the first half of yesterday’s match in Norway after taking a blow to one foot.
Leeds’ talented youngster completed just 15 minutes of a 2-1 loss in Lillestrom but is expected to recover in time to feature in the club’s last friendly at home to Everton on Saturday.
Rosler has seen a spate of injuries among his midfielders during United’s pre-season schedule. Luke Murphy underwent surgery three weeks ago and will miss the start of the Championship season and Tommaso Bianchi sat out yesterday’s friendly with a swollen knee.
Rosler, however, expects Bianchi to train this week and asked about Cook, the German said: “He’s fine. He got a kick on his toe and we took him out just as a precaution.
“We didn’t want to risk him two weeks before the season starts.”
Leeds are entering the closing stages of their pre-season programme after Saturday’s defeat rounded off a week-long tour of Austria and Norway.
Rosler’s side lost 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt near Salzburg last Tuesday and were narrowly beaten by another Bundesliga team in Lillestrom, in front of a crowd of more than 2,000.
United fell behind to a second-minute strike from Mark Uth, scored from long-range, but new signing Tom Adeyemi equalised when he finished off a well-worked corner with 25 minutes gone.
Rosler expressed satisfaction with United’s first-half display but conceded that their intensity dropped after the interval, on the back of a long week of training.
Hoffenheim settled the friendly on 67 minutes through a close-range finish from Steven Zuber.
“The first 45 minutes were excellent,” Rosler said. “We camped in their half against top opposition.
“We looked physically very strong and sharp when we pressed them high. We looked dangerous from set pieces and from open play.
“I was very happy. I praised the players a lot at half-time –probably a little bit too much but because we’ve come to the end of a very hard week.
“We couldn’t keep that level up in the second half but we had two or three very good chances. A draw would have been a fair result.
“It’ been a good week and we’ve put a lot of good things in place. I think you could see that.”
Rosler’s hunt for an out-and-out left winger remains at the top of the agenda at Elland Road with the start of the new season approaching rapidly.
Leeds gave serious consideration to signing Catania’s Raphael Martinho but pulled out of talks last week after deciding that the Brazilian – a player who speaks virtually no English – might struggle to settle in England.
Interest in Bastia’s Floyd Ayite has not progressed and Rosler used both friendlies abroad to try out options within his squad, using Casper Sloth as a left winger against Frankfurt and giving that role to Souleymane Doukara in the defeat to Hoffenheim.
Doukara, who moved to United from Italy a year ago, scored seven times for Leeds in his first season at Elland Road but became increasingly peripheral in the second half of the term.
Asked if he was happy with Doukara’s display, Rosler said: “On the ball yes but without the ball Souleymane knows he has to work very hard.
“But he’s putting a lot of effort in and there were a lot of encouraging signs from him. He wants to do well.”
Leeds United line-up v Hoffenheim: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor (Cooper 65), Adeyemi (Sloth 84), Cook (Phillips 15), Mowatt (Walters 85), Byram (Erwin 80), Doukara (Antenucci 61), Wood (Morison 80). Subs (not used): Turnbull, Coyle, Wootton, Horton.