Javi Gracia has told The Athletic that he decided to bring back Willy Gnonto to the starting line-up during Leeds United’s loss to Bournemouth due to injuries – and not because of media and fan pressure to start the Italy starlet.

Gnonto, 19, finally returned to the Leeds line-up against Bournemouth last Sunday after failing to start following the international break. He had started in the game prior to linking up with Italy – where he picked up an ankle injury.

It saw him miss the trip to Arsenal – but he was back on the bench for the win over Forest, albeit, unused. He then came off the bench in the defeats to Palace, Liverpool and Fulham. Against Leicester, he was again an unused sub.

Starting against Bournemouth, he did get an assist for Patrick Bamford’s goal and was probably our only bright spark – along with Adam Forshaw’s decent cameo. Athletic writer Adam Crafton said he asked about Gnonto.

AFC Bournemouth v Leeds United - Premier League
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Replying to fans in the comments, he says: “I did ask whether he finally put him in to the team due to media/fan pressure and he said no it was due to tactics/injuries. He also said the player has huge potential for the future.

Gracia decided to bring Gnonto back due to Leeds injuries

So, it remains bizarre that Gracia decided not to play Gnonto on a more regular basis. It was because of injuries, with Luis Sinisterra picking up a season-ending issue, that Gnonto got his eventual start. Not for another reason.

But Gnonto even proved against Bournemouth that he could be the man to provide the difference. His assist for Bamford, his two efforts at goal both well-saved by Neto. Big Sam has got to start Gnonto to have any chance.

AFC Bournemouth v Leeds United - Premier League
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

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