Gracia hints two Leeds United defenders are doubts for Leicester City clash – ‘I’m not sure’

News Desk
Javi Gracia, Leeds United, February 2023

Leeds boss Javi Gracia has hinted that Liam Cooper and Max Wober are doubtful for their home Premier League game against relegation rivals Leicester.

Cooper and Wober both returned to the starting line-up over the weekend as Leeds suffered a damaging 2-1 defeat at Fulham, but it is understood that they both were not able to train on Monday.

Gracia often refuses to talk about injuries to specific players, but when asked if Cooper and Wober are available, he said: “For the next game we have some players, who in this moment, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to play.”

Cooper, who had struggled to get back into the team after injury, was Leeds’ stand-out performer at Craven Cottage.

He helped solidify Leeds’ porous defence and displayed the fighting qualities and leadership that had been missing in recent 5-1 and 6-1 defeats to Crystal Palace and Liverpool.

Wober has been arguably Leeds’ best defender since signing from Red Bull Salzburg in January and he also made a difference at Fulham having missed the previous four matches.

Leeds’ travelling fans turned on the club’s board at Fulham after a third straight defeat left them one point above the bottom three with six games remaining.

Tuesday night’s clash with Leicester and Sunday’s trip to fellow strugglers Bournemouth could prove pivotal to Leeds’ survival chances and Gracia said the club’s supporters had a huge role to play.

“I can understand the supporters are angry, but I know they support the team,” the Spaniard said.

“If I can say something to the fans it’s support the players because they need it.”

Leeds went for Gracia in their bid to retain their top-flight status after sacking Jesse Marsch in February and missing out on several targets they had lined up to replace the American.

Gracia won three of his first six league games in charge before three damaging defeats has seen them lose all momentum, but the former Watford boss insists they can turn it round.

“All of us can feel we are living in tough moments at the most important part of the season,” he said.

“But I remember when I arrived we were second-bottom, emotionally in a difficult moment as well, and we were able to change the dynamic.

“We did it and we can do it again after these three bad results. We can change the dynamic.”

Key player Tyler Adams is still out as he recovers from hamstring surgery and after Marc Roca and Weston McKennie were overrun in midfield at Fulham, Adam Forshaw appears to be an unlikely alternative option.

On Forshaw, who has had another injury-hit season, Gracia said: “We have to know if a player is coming from a long-term injury is in his best condition, he needs time.

“In this moment we don’t have time. We have to take the best of our players in the condition they are.”

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