Leeds boss Gracia considering starting club-record signing Rutter against Chelsea

News Desk
Leeds striker Georginio Rutter celebrates a win

Leeds head coach Javi Gracia has revealed he could hand January signing Georginio Rutter his first Premier League start at Chelsea on Saturday.

Rutter started in Tuesday night’s FA Cup defeat at Fulham in place of Patrick Bamford and Gracia has hinted at pairing them together in a two-pronged attack at Stamford Bridge.

France Under-21s striker Rutter has made five substitute appearances in the top flight since arriving at Leeds from Hoffenheim in January for a fee which could rise to £35million.

Gracia said: “It’s an option, a real option, to play with two players up front. In the last game I’m happy with the way Georginio played.

“Now, speaking about the next game, I think it’s a good option to play two players up front, whoever it is, with Georginio, with Patrick, with Rodrigo, with (Brenden) Aaronson, with all the attackers we have in the club.”

Rutter, 20, who scored 11 goals in 57 Bundesliga appearances for Hoffenheim, was denied his first for Leeds at Fulham. He turned home a first-half rebound only for his effort to be controversially ruled out for an earlier infringement.

Bamford has struggled to recapture the form which saw him score 17 top-flight goals during the 2020-21 season following a series of injuries, while the two strikers did start together in the FA Cup win at Accrington in January.

Former Watford boss Gracia, who steered the Hornets away from relegation trouble to an 11th-place finish in 2019, appears to have achieved his first objective at Leeds by making them more compact and harder to beat.

The Spaniard is hoping to solve another big puzzle – Leeds’ struggles in front of goal – which will be key to their survival chances.

He added: “Yeah, it’s my work. I don’t know if I’m going to get it, but I have to think I can do it and have to help the players improve.

“It’s true, in the game you have to do it. I’m not there to finish with them or tell them to do this or that.

“But I have to help them during the (training) sessions with confidence, with my support, (to) mentally help them this way.”

Luis Sinisterra, Pascal Struijk, Liam Cooper and Max Wober all missed the cup tie at Fulham through injury and remain doubtful for Saturday’s trip to the capital as Leeds bid for their sixth league win of the season.

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