Leeds United boss Garry Monk described Marco Silvestri as “one of the best shots-stoppers I’ve seen” after the goalkeeper’s penalty saves secured the club’s place in the League Cup quarter-finals.
Monk paid tribute to his entire squad after they survived extra-time with 10 men to beat Norwich City on penalties yesterday but he reserved additional praise for Silvestri – despite admitting that he had turned his back for the duration of a dramatic shootout.
Silvestri made three fine stops from Alex Pritchard, Steven Naismith and Robbie Brady, allowing 18-year-old Ronaldo Vieira to settle the fourth-round tie with a decisive spot-kick.
Silvestri, who appeared to be on his way out of Leeds after he was sent home from the club’s pre-season training camp in Ireland in July, was making only his third appearance of the season but rose to the occasion by denying Norwich repeatedly.
Monk said: “I don’t watch penalties so I didn’t watch those but I got told he made three very good saves.
“Marco’s one of the best shot-stoppers I’ve seen to be honest. He’s fantastic. But it’s unfair to single out anyone. They all played their part.”
A raft of changes made by Monk ultimately paid off as Leeds recovered from a poor first half to dominate Norwich and secure a deserved place in the last eight.
Monk insisted that the performance had not come as a surprise, despite his use of several fringe players. Souleymane Doukara shone on a rare start while Liam Cooper and Matt Grimes were also given the opportunity to play.
Monk said: “You have to trust the group. What’s the point in having a squad if you can’t trust them? Everyone will say you have to play your strongest side but I don’t look at it as a stronger side. I look at the players I have as a squad and I use them the best way I can for the club. You have to trust players and I’ve shown already that I trust all of those players.
“We’ll go through some dips but when this group give everything they can be anything they want to be.”