Leeds WILL be ready for their clash with Manchester City on Boxing Day, insists their assistant manager… as Rene Maric claims youngster Willy Gnonto can fire them to victory in their Premier League return
- Leeds are preparing to take on Manchester City in their return to league football
- It’ll be a steep task for Jesse Marsch’s side in their first domestic game back
- However, assistant manager Rene Maric has talked up his side’s chances of a win
- The Austrian insists ‘joyful’ Willy Gnonto can help fire them to victory on the day
Rene Maric insists Leeds will be ready for champions Manchester City when the Premier League resumes – and believes 19-year-old prodigy Willy Gnonto could take centre stage.
Jesse Marsch’s men, who beat a David Silva-inspired Real Sociedad 2-1 on Friday, face reigning champions City in their first post-World Cup outing.
The Whites host Monaco in their final mid-season friendly on Wednesday before Pep Guardiola’s champions head to Elland Road seven days later.
Leeds assistant manager Rene Maric has spoken up his side’s chances against Man City
Maric claims that Italian forward Willy Gnonto can be a deciding factor in the Boxing Day clash
Assistant boss Maric said: ‘Preparations are going well, but we’re only halfway there.
‘There are things that we need to improve on against Monaco on Wednesday and for sure there will be things from the Monaco game that we have to iron out for Man City.
‘You focus on different aspects in different phases of any ‘pre-season’ but I think we’re on good path.’
Rookie Italy striker Gnonto, a £3.8million summer signing from FC Zurich, helped Leeds to dramatic victories over Liverpool and Bournemouth before the World Cup.
The teenager caught the eye again in the win over Sociedad, playing a key role in Rodrigo’s second-half winner, and is fast emerging as a cult figure with Leeds fans.
Maric added: ‘Willy’s personality is joyful – he’s very intelligent and speaks four languages to a very high level.
‘He’s very humble and a really nice guy but still very ambitious and has the confidence to try things. That mixture of characteristics is making it very easy for us to work with him.
19-year-old Gnonto celebrates after getting the match-winning assist against Bournemouth
‘It’s very nice to have such a great human being in your squad and I think that’s one of the factors that will make him a very good player in the future.’
Leeds will check on the fitness of Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison, Diego Llorente, Crysencio Summerville, Robin Koch and Junior Firpo ahead of the City clash.
But USA midfielder Tyler Adams is suspended for a game which could see former favourite Kalvin Phillips make his first return to Elland Road.