Leeds United: Monk’s dealing with the cards he’s been given

Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.
Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.
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Garry Monk kept his focus on managing an increasingly thin squad and said the ownership ban awaiting Massimo Cellino was a matter “for the club to deal with” as Leeds United’s attention turned to tomorrow’s clash with Reading.

Monk carried out a head-count over the weekend after a red card incurred by Kalvin Phillips in Friday’s 2-0 loss to Brighton reduced an already short list of options in the centre of midfield.

Phillips’ one-match ban could leave United’s head coach without three key midfielders tomorrow with Eunan O’Kane continuing to fight a groin strain and Liam Bridcutt edging towards a first-team return after a long spell on the sidelines with a fractured foot.

Injury also accounted for Pablo Hernandez last month and the Spanish playmaker has missed five matches with a hamstring strain suffered in Leeds’ 3-2 win at Norwich City on November 5.

The January transfer window will offer Monk the chance to sign reinforcements but his resources are dwindling as Reading prepare to visit Elland Road on the back of six victories in seven games.

Monk, though, expects his available players to react well to the frustration of a disappointing performance at Brighton, saying: “It’s always a worry but you have to deal with the hand you’re dealt.

“There’s a lot of games in a short period and we’ve been having injuries, bumps and bruises for quite a few weeks now. We’ve dealt with them very well but you can’t afford to have too many. We just have to focus on what we have.

“The game (against Brighton) being on Friday gave us a bit of extra time to recover the players and assess them. We’ll see who’s ready to use the feeling and frustration in our performance on Tuesday. We’ve shown great reactions every time we’ve had a disappointment and we never feel happy when we don’t do ourselves justice.”

United’s season is now playing out against the backdrop of Cellino’s imminent 18-month suspension as club owner.

Cellino was hit with the penalty by the Football Association after being found guilty of sanctioning an illegal payment during striker Ross McCormack’s move from Leeds to Fulham in 2014.

He intends to appeal the ban and fines of £250,000 imposed on him and Leeds but the FA has ordered him to stand down from United’s board on February 1, in effect preventing Cellino from exerting any control at Elland Road until August 2018.

The 60-year-old is currently in the advanced stages of a deal to sell 50 per cent of Leeds to Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani but Monk said Cellino’s ownership issues were not his business.

“I respect the owner and I respect the club,” Monk said. “It’s not really for me to get into. It’s for the club to deal with.