Leeds United: Monk impressed by Grimes’ fighting spirit

Matt Grimes.
Matt Grimes.
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HEAD coach Garry Monk has hinted at further game time for Matt Grimes at Leeds United, declaring: “he is coming back to more like the player I saw at Swansea.”

Grimes had made little impact with the Whites since his summer loan switch from the Swans with the left-footed midfielder restricted to appearances in EFL Cup ties after his opening weekend start in the 3-0 loss at Queens Park Rangers.

But the 21-year-old former England under-21 international has recently been re-introduced into Monk’s plans, with Grimes coming on as a 66th-minute substitute for right winger Hadi Sacko during Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Championship visitors Wigan Athletic at Elland Road.

That outing followed late appearances from the bench in the 1-0 defeat of Ipswich at Elland Road at the end of September and during the 1-0 loss at Derby County last weekend.

“He is coming back to more like the player I saw at Swansea and he is fighting for minutes,” said Monk, speaking ahead of today’s Championship visit Wolves. “He’s fighting very hard. We spoke at the start of the season that he was a little bit off from what was needed and he has come back.

“We see him every day and he is fighting hard, like they all are. But he is really fighting hard and he deserves his place in the squad at the moment.

“Every team that I pick, every squad that I pick, they deserve to be there and sometimes there’s even ones that are out of the squad that deserve to be there as well but you can only pick so many players.”

United have a plethora of midfielders at the club, and Leeds’ options in that department has seemingly pushed former player-of-the-year Alex Mowatt down the pecking order.

Mowatt started on the left wing in the absence of the injured Stuart Dallas in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Derby but was then dropped to the bench for Tuesday’s Wigan encounter with Kemar Roofe preferred. Mowatt then came on as a 74th-minute substitute for Pablo Hernandez in the no 10 role.

“Mowy is as important as anyone else in that squad,” said Monk.

“I count on my squad, I don’t just count on one player or XI players, I count on the whole squad.

“Mowy probably hasn’t played as many minutes as what he would like - that’s normal for a player. But when he has come on he’s done well.

“Of course, with young players, their form will dip up and down and regular football helps as well. But Mowy is working as hard as anyone, we are helping him with his game, he understands what he needs to do when he comes on to the pitch and he’s an important part of the group.

“He’s a talented player and we will help him to produce his best football.

“We know what he is capable of and when he comes on to the pitch it’s for him to fight and put that on the pitch.

“He is important to us, we appreciate him as a player, we want the best for him and we want to get his best football out when he goes on to the pitch.”