Pontus Jansson has spoken about his surprise demotion to the bench during Leeds United’s win over Brighton, saying he respected the decision “fully” and insisting Garry Monk’s reasons would “stay between me and him”.
Monk took the unexpected step of dropping Jansson on Saturday and starting Liam Cooper ahead of him, an unexplained move which United’s head coach admitted was unrelated to Jansson’s fitness.
Monk said he had done “what’s best for the team and the principles we work to”, implying that Jansson’s attitude in the lead-up to a key Championship fixture had convinced him to name the Sweden international on the bench.
Jansson, who is on loan from Torino and will sign a permanent three-year contract at Elland Road in the summer, has been one of Monk’s most influential players this season and his partnership with Kyle Bartley in the centre of defence has been a fixture for most of the term.
The 26-year-old was named in the Championship’s team of the year on Monday, underlining his influence in United’s impressive campaign.
Leeds, however, claimed a 2-0 victory over Brighton without him, moving up to fourth in the table and tightening their hold on a play-off place.
Sources at Elland Road insist the matter is not serious and Jansson, who is on international duty with Sweden, told Fotboll Skanalen: “It was the coach's decision. I accept it. I'm just happy that we won and took another step towards the Premier League.
“I respect it fully and we won the game so we cannot blame him for that. He stands behind his decision.
“He gave me an explanation but it stays between me and him. It’s between coaches and players. I stand behind it 100 per cent.”
Leeds have a two week break before their next match away at Reading on April 1 and Jansson said he had “no idea” if Monk planned to recall him for that fixture.
Cooper made only his 10th league appearance of the season on Saturday but Monk was effusive in his praise of him afterwards, saying: “He’s a top defender, I said that a long time ago, and he’s been improving.
“I really enjoy working with him because he listens and works hard. To come in and deliver that performance shows how ready he is.”
Asked if he expected to play against Reading, Jansson said: “No idea. We won so probably he chose the right team. I hope I’m back in the next game and get to play in it instead.
“I’m ready to fight when I get back. Now I’ll make a good effort for the national team.”