Simon Grayson insisted today that Andy Lonergan was in firm contention to start Monday’s game at Derby County, despite the goalkeeper saying he deserved to be dropped after Leeds United’s defeat to Reading.
Grayson refused to reveal whether Lonergan or Alex McCarthy would be chosen for United’s visit to Pride Park but the Leeds manager claimed Lonergan’s self-critical comments had not influenced his decision.
Lonergan was recalled for the first time in two months against Reading last week, returning from a broken finger, but he was beaten by a second-minute lob and described his performance as “poor”, admitting he did not expect to retain his place at Derby.
The former Preston North End captain was Grayson’s first choice earlier this season, consolidating his position with a series of convincing displays, but McCarthy impressed after joining Leeds on loan from Reading and the 22-year-old will be available on Boxing Day after missing last week’s clash with his parent club.
Grayson said: “I’ve more or less made up my mind. Whatever decision I make won’t be easy and it’s a big one for me.
“Andy was very critical of himself after Reading and to be honest I thought he was a bit harsh. He kept us in the game with a fantastic save from (Jobi) McAnuff and much of what he did, he did very well.
“He’s right to criticise himself because that’s what players should do but sometimes you can be over-critical. There wasn’t a great deal wrong with his performance and I didn’t blame him for Reading’s goal. You can’t criticise him for what he’s done so far either because he’s been excellent for us. What he said makes no difference because he’s trained really well this week, as all the other keepers have.”
Changes to Grayson side are likely, however, after an unimaginative display against Reading and a scrambled, injury-time draw at Watford seven days earlier.
Grayson said: “When the team’s not played as well as they can, every player who hasn’t been in the team should think they’ve got an opportunity to get back in.
“Changes are an option for me because I’ve got good players available.”