Garry Monk said Rob Green had fully justified an extension to his Leeds United contract after the goalkeeper’s fine form continued in a 2-0 victory over Brighton.
Leeds confirmed on Saturday that Green had triggered an appearance-related clause extending his one-year deal to the summer of 2018 and the 37-year-old demonstrated his importance again with two crucial saves against Chris Hughton’s Brighton.
Green prevented a Liam Cooper own goal while Leeds and Albion were locked at 0-0 in the first half and he denied Glenn Murray with a close-range parry after Chris Wood opened the scoring with a 64th-minute header.
The ex-West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers player has been Monk’s first-choice keeper throughout this season, appearing in every minute of a Championship campaign which has taken Leeds to fourth in the table, and his influence has grown steadily in the second half of the term.
Monk signed him on a 12-month contract after his departure from QPR last summer but his deal included the guarantee of an additional season at Elland Road if Green reached a set number of appearances for the club before June.
Documents issued by the Football Association over the weekend revealed that Green had earned new terms at Elland Road in the final week of February and the club announced after Saturday’s win against Brighton that was now tied to the club “until at least the end of the 2017-18 season”.
Monk said: “We’re delighted for him and he deserves that. I brought him in number one because he’s a good goalkeeper but number two, he has that experience and number three, he’s a top professional.
“All those ingredients were going to help the group and it’s shown. It’s shown in his performances. If you ask anyone, he lends his experience from within the changing room and he deserves the praise he’s getting right now. But he’s as sure as anyone that there’s a lot of work still to do. We have to be focused on the games coming up.”
Green was forced into a superb, full-length stop just after the half-hour when Cooper stabbed a low cross from Beram Kayal towards his own net. His reaction allowed Gaetano Berardi to head the ball away from under his own crossbar.
Saturday’s game was goalless at the time and Monk, whose players prevented second-placed Brighton from climbing to the top of the division, said: “The save from Coops was probably the hardest. It would have been a shame if we’d conceded something like that through a mistake.
“Against a good side you’re going to have to defend well and we did that throughout the game, apart from a couple of scares. You have to remind yourself that we were playing against a top side, a really dangerous side and a tough team to beat. They’re having a fantastic season but we pushed the level. We deserved the three points.”
Leeds have reached the international break with 69 points and Monk, whose players have eight matches remaining, promised to give them a short break ahead of the last leg of the season.
“The players will need some rest but there’s work to be done too,” Monk said. “We won’t lose focus on that.”