Javi Gracia told Thursday’s press conference – as per Leeds Live – that he has been “protecting” Leeds United gem Willy Gnonto in recent weeks after the wonderkid attacker picked up an ankle injury while on international duty.

Gnonto, 19, has not started for Leeds since the 4-2 win over Wolves. Even in that match, he was withdrawn on the hour mark, to the frustration of the Italy talent. However, he was seen after the match celebrating like it was nothing.

Then, the injury. A twisted ankle in a 2-0 win over Malta. It saw him miss the 4-1 loss to Arsenal, and then remained an unused sub in the win over Forest. In the last two games, he has only been used as a sub – 5-1, and 6-1 losses.

Speaking on Thursday ahead of a trip to Fulham in a game that will be played on Saturday lunchtime, Gracia was asked about Gnonto. He admitted that while Gnonto is fit and ready to go, he has been protecting the teen talent.

“Gnonto is ready. He had a little issue, he had some problems, but now he’s ready. He’s trained the last few weeks and in the beginning when he came back, it’s true that I tried to protect him a little bit but now he’s ready, available.”

Leeds United v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gracia admits he has been protecting Leeds gem Gnonto recently

Well, that might be the case and it might have been important in helping Gnonto – who is still young – to get back to 100%. But away at Fulham, when Leeds need all their counter-attacking skill, Gnonto simply has to start for Leeds.

It would be a risk not to start him, at this point. Gnonto has been sufficiently rested and against Fulham, Leeds need to go for the jugular. We cannot be passive as we were against Liverpool. We need points. The first goal is pivotal.

Leeds get themselves a goal and then fine, drop back, organise and become harder to break down. But if Leeds are going to get a first goal then we need Gnonto – maybe, pushing Jack Harrison inside, replacing Brenden Aaronson.

Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Related Topics

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know