Defiant Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch kicks off the season with barrage of injuries and absentees

Leeds United captain Liam Cooper will be one of seven players on the sidelines for the club’s Premier League opener against Wolverhampton.

Dan James will miss the match through suspension, while six of his teammates sit out Saturday's encounter with injuries. 

Luis Sinisterra, Luke Ayling, Junior Firpo, Adam Forshaw and Stuart Dallas are the other names on a lengthy absentee list.

Despite the availability issues, manager Jesse Marsch has remained optimistic, saying during his pre-match press conference: "We've still got a good group.

"Dan James is suspended. He will be playing 90 minutes with the 21s tomorrow night, by his request.

"Liam Cooper has had an Achilles issue from his off-season programme. This week he's finally been on the pitch doing individual work. We hope by next week he'll be in team training.

"Firpo ahead of schedule, but he's still probably 2-3 weeks away from match eligibility. Forshaw made good progress with a knee-MCL issue, but we're hopeful he'll be training next week.

"Ayling made progress and ahead of schedule. We're trying not to pressure him too much. He's been on the pitch, hopeful he can be in training soon.

"Luis on the pitch today and getting closer to his top speed, hopefully available weekend after next."

Wolves, on the other hand, will be without Raul Jimenez and winger Adama Traore, who are both expected to miss the first two league games.

Marsch, meanwhile, cannot wait to step back out at Elland Road this weekend with what he believes is a "better version" of the Leeds team despite the exits of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha.

Jesse Marsch Raphinha Leeds Apr22

The American replaced much-loved Marcelo Bielsa in February and just managed to steer the Yorkshire side to Premier League survival on the final day of the season.

Star men Phillips and Raphinha have left for Manchester City and Barcelona respectively since then, but a swathe of interesting acquisitions have been made by Leeds over the summer.

"We know we lost two great players, but that has allowed us to bring in I think six, seven, eight other players that can help us even more precisely play the version of football that we want to play," Marsch said.

"It was great working with Kalvin and Raphinha, and I'm very thankful for the time that I had with them and the way they committed to everything that we did here.

"But I think we'll use the situation to make us stronger, I really believe that."

Marsch said he has "never felt so supported in my life" and believes the work behind the scenes over pre-season holds them in good stead ahead of Wolves' visit.

"It's too early to start talking about goals, but certainly we want to finish better than we did last year," said the Leeds manager, who is coping with seven first-team absentees for the opener.

"I think the key in that is just to have a good start. I'm really happy that we play the first match at home in front of our fans. I know there'll be anticipation, but there'll be support. I know that.

"We have to come out and play on the front foot. I think we have to play aggressively and I think we have to play well with quality, with confidence to honour what the fans are going to bring to the stadium and to honour what we believe is going to be a good year for us.

"I think we've been able to use the time in pre-season to work in a little bit more stress-free environment.

"Obviously, there's always pressures to improve and grow and we know once the season starts that the games demand the absolute best from you.

"But, yeah, I mean, we've been able to invest heavily in tactics that we think are important, set-piece ideas, team idea of like what we want this environment to be like from a team perspective, from a day-to-day work perspective, from a physical (perspective).

"We've even made some adjustments of what's going on here at Thorp Arch to really just be more efficient and clean with everything we do.

"Of course, when new managers come in they bring a lot of new ideas and new styles of play and everything.

"I think that we have made incredible progress in the last six weeks and I think we're going to see a better version of what I would like us to be on matchday, which is exciting for me.

"Certainly some of the additions have been important for that, but I think also the players that have been here have now had more time to work more intensively and minutely on the details, so that we can now transform ourselves into what we want to be."

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