By George Overhill

11th Mar, 2023 | 2:51pm

Sky Sports pundit shocked by Wilfried Gnonto development at Leeds United ahead of Brighton clash after Jeff Stelling question

Michael Dawson is “very surprised” that Leeds United boss Javi Gracia has again left Willy Gnonto on the bench for the clash with Brighton.

The summer deadline day arrival has flourished into a star for this Whites team and was the standout player under Jesse Marsch for much of the season.

But he was the first substituted in Gracia’s first game against Southampton on (25 February) and has been left out of the starting XI in the two Premier League matches since, leaving Jeff Stelling and Dawson bewildered.

Speaking live on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday (11 March, 2.32pm) Stelling asked: “As far as Leeds are concerned, of course the pressure cranked up on them with that Bournemouth win [vs Liverpool] today, they’ve not scored in five of their last seven.

“Daws, are you surprised that Wilfried Gnonto, who was left on the bench against Chelsea last week, is again on the bench today?”

Dawson replied: “Yes I am surprised. I’m a big fan of Gnonto, I think he’s a threat, he’s direct, he comes inside.

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“[Crysencio] Summerville’s been very good, and you’ve got Jack Harrison who’s now playing wide as well, and [Brenden] Aaronson playing in the 10 [position].

“I am very surprised because Gnonto is one of their best players.”


Gracia clearly has a plan about his way of doing things and having finally had some preparation time ahead of a game it remains to be seen how it plays out against high-flying Brighton.

But Gnonto dropping out of the starting line-up again is a confusing development when he has been so threatening in attack this year.

Teams have started to cotton on to his ability and doubled-up to defend him, but he still is surely more of a use than Harrison who has struggled for form for months now.

It may be that the new manager just wants to rest him for a pair of games against stronger opponents in order to unleash him on the teams closer in the table to the Whites.

But it is a risky strategy not to use the strongest line up wherever possible at the moment because there are fewer and fewer games left to secure safety this season.

Perhaps Gnonto still gets the chance to make a telling contribution to the Leeds United relegation battle, but it is certainly unexpected that he appears to have been one of the main men sacrificed since the managerial change.

In other Leeds United news, the manager has also handed Victor Orta a public blow with what he did recently.

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