Leeds United reinjury fear forces Daniel Farke's hand in selection decision

Daniel Farke was cautious with Wilfried Gnonto last weekend for Leeds United -Credit:MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Daniel Farke was cautious with Wilfried Gnonto last weekend for Leeds United -Credit:MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Reinjury was Daniel Farke’s big fear when he made his most controversial Leeds United decision of last Saturday. In a game the Whites would go on to lose, there was some consternation when the German took off the hosts’ biggest threat on the day.

Wilfried Gnonto, making his first United start since March 17, unbalanced Blackburn Rovers more frequently than any of his team-mates. The Italian would be removed in the 80th minute, much to his and the crowd’s frustration, and the visitors would score their winner two minutes later.

It transpires the 20-year-old lasted even longer than Farke had initially envisaged. The injury Gnonto picked up on Italy under-21 duty would rule him out of training and matches across the Easter weekend, even prompting a three-week prognosis from his manager.

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The trip to Riverside Stadium next week had originally been anticipated as a possible return game for Gnonto, which then developed into the first opportunity he would have to complete 90 minutes. Returning at Coventry City and then starting against Blackburn was well ahead of schedule for the winger.

“He was excellent, especially in the first half,” said Farke. “I was happy today (Saturday) to be allowed by our physios and our doctors to start him.

“In the last games, they were a bit reluctant to give the green light. We spoke about it before the game, perhaps 60 minutes would be a good sign.

“I tried to leave him as long as possible on the pitch because I got the feeling he created a lot today. I'm pretty pleased to have him back, but you also could feel, because he missed a couple of weeks of training, in the second half he needed to take a breath a bit more and that was a bit difficult and dangerous.”

Playing Gnonto any longer and seeing him perhaps miss the rest of the season was a risk Farke did not want to take. The hope he will be, assuming he has come away from Elland Road unscathed, he will now be able to get through a full game on Teesside.

“Obviously, there would have been also a bigger risk of reinjury if I had let him play all 90 minutes, but, in terms of his shape, I was tempted to leave him on the pitch even a bit longer than it was planned because it was a really good performance,” said Farke.

“Sadly, he also wasn't able to bring the ball then really decisively over the line, but yes, good to have him back.”