Simon Grayson has heaped praise on Jonny Howson – and admits to being perplexed at criticism of the Leeds United skipper’s displays so far this season.
Howson was a vital cog in United’s excellent 1-0 Championship victory at pre-season promotion favourites Leicester City on Sunday, with he and goalscoring hero Adam Clayton outshining Richie Wellens and Andy King in the engine room.
Whites boss Grayson insists he has been more than satisfied with the Morley-born midfielder’s performances all term.
And he feels the 23-year-old – so effective offensively in the 4-2-3-1 line-up United employed for much of last term – has done a valuable if under-rated job for the team so far in 2011-12 in a more disciplined 4-4-2 system which restricts his forays forward.
On the displays of Howson, out of contract next summer and still to agree a new deal at his boyhood club, Grayson said: “It amazes me when people criticise Jonny because he goes about his business in a quiet manner.
“Other people will always get the plaudits, but he does everything that you ask him to do.
“He’s a pleasure to work with and leads by example. He’s not one to steam into tackles, but he works and presses and breaks things up and plays when he gets the chance to. Jonny is a top player.”
Meanwhile, Howson’s midfield cohort Clayton, cock-a-hoop after his stunning match-winning strike at the King Power Stadium, has revealed that he has set his sights on a double-figure goals tally.
The former Manchester City player took his seasonal haul to four – the most he has ever scored in a campaign – in sensational fashion in the East Midlands, to follow memorable strikes in the dramatic 3-2 victory at former loan destination Peterborough United and in the last-gasp draw at West Ham back in August.
And the buoyant Mancunian is confident his goals rush will continue and that he can add a few more choice entries into his scrapbook between now and season’s end.
Clayton, who also broke his scoring duck for the club at Elland Road in the 4-1 early-season derby victory over Hull City, added: “It’s my first season (as a regular), so I will take four so far. But I think there’s a lot more to come if I can keep getting chances.
“Hopefully, I can do what Jonny did last year and get to the magic 10.
“I’m really enjoying it with Jonny. We connect very well and we’re the same age and I think we’re similar types of players and it only bodes well for the future.”