GARRY Monk has confirmed that Marcus Antonsson played through the pain with damaged ribs for Leeds United this term, declaring: “part of what I wanted to bring here was a toughness as well.
Swedish striker Antonsson has found first-team starts limited since his summer switch from Kalmar due to United’s 4-2-3-1 system and the sparkling form of 11-goal targetman Chris Wood.
The forward’s last two starts have both come in EFL Cup ties with the 25-year-old named in Garry Monk’s XI for the EFL Cup clash at home to Blackburn Rovers on September 20 in which the striker became injured after 71 minutes and was substituted for Wood.
Speaking to the Swedish media this week, Antonsson reportedly explained that he fractured his ribs in that contest yet was back in action for Leeds just ten days later when coming on as a 75th-minute substitute in the 2-1 Championship win at home to Barnsley on October 1.
And Monk confirmed those claims in this week’s press conference in the build up to Saturday’s Championship clash at Rotherham United in which Antonsson is pushing for a start after netting a hat-trick for the club’s under-23s this week.
Monk said: “He had a knock on his ribs – it was a while back – but he had a kick to the ribs or a nudge to the ribs.
“But it’s a man’s sport, you get on with it.
“And part of what I wanted to bring here was a toughness as well.
“I don’t allow anything soft. Of course I don’t put any players at risk and of course I am always mindful of that but we don’t allow anything soft here.
“If you are injured, you are injured and it’s not a case of if it’s that grey area in between as if you are not injured then you train and you play.
“It’s important that as a player you have that in your make up as successful teams all have it in their make up. You have to be resilient and tough as well as all the other things – good football and all that side of it. But you have to be resilient and tough and when I think of my career that’s probably one of the biggest percentages or biggest things you have to have to have a career in football.
“We try and promote that here as part of what we do and Marcus has played through it.
“Other players have played through bumps and bruises but it’s also your job to be of that mind-set or that mentality as well.”
Antonsson has not started a league game for Leeds since the Elland Road hosting of Blackburn in September but the forward again advertised his claims by scoring a hat-trick in Tuesday afternoon’s under-23s clash at Huddersfield Town. Monk added: “It’s good. Their job is to be competitive and be ready and Marcus is a fantastic lad.
“But they understand that not everyone can play every game, they have to be ready when they are called upon.
“It’s always difficult as a manager as you have to select a team and sometimes players are left out of the starting XI and sometimes they are left out of the squads but that’s the life they lead and their job is to be ready.
“Marcus showed that clearly with his performance in the week and I thought it was important for those players that played to get minutes on the pitch so that they are ready.
“And you can see it already that we are going to need everyone to be ready and contributing to the season because they are all going to play minutes.
“Marcus is exactly like the others, they understand where they are, they understand what they are fighting for and it’s their job to be ready when that opportunity comes.”