Javi Gracia admits injuries to Leeds’ key players have given him a ‘big problem’

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Leeds boss Javi Gracia says injuries to several key players have left him with “big problems” before Saturday’s Premier League game at title-chasing Arsenal.

USA midfielder Tyler Adams is waiting to learn whether he will feature again this season following hamstring surgery as Leeds resume their relegation battle.

Italy forward Willy Gnonto and Austria defender Max Wober will also miss the game at the Emirates Stadium after sustaining ankle and hamstring injuries respectively while playing for their countries during the international break.

Gracia said: “This break we had big problems. We lost important players for the next games. It’s a big problem for us.

“Tyler, we’ll see. After the surgery we’ll see if he can play any games this season. Gnonto and Wober have different injuries, but they need time to recover. They are out this weekend.”

After Saturday’s trip to the capital, Leeds face home games against relegation rivals Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace next week in the space of five days.

It is understood both Gnonto and Wober could return to contention in time for one or both of those games.

Gracia added: “I’m sorry but I cannot clarify because I don’t know. What I know is they are out for this game and I think it will be more time.

“I don’t know if one week more, two weeks more, I cannot tell you. It depends on the evolution.

“They are important players and we don’t have a big squad. I am positive. I am optimistic and I believe in my squad.”

Leeds have collected seven points from Gracia’s four league games in charge, with victory at Wolves before the break lifting them from second-bottom up to 14th in the table, albeit still only two points above the drop zone.

Adams, Gnonto and Wober have been integral to Leeds’ steady progress under Gracia and their absence is a major blow.

Liam Cooper, fit again after injury, made a timely return to action for Scotland in Tuesday night’s Euro qualifying win against Spain, stepping off the bench for the last 15 minutes.

“Liam is ready,” Spaniard Gracia added. “I saw the (Scotland) game. I suffered a little, but I enjoyed it because I could see how important it was for him. We need all of our players because of the busy schedule.”

The Leeds skipper last appeared for his club in their defeat at Forest in early February – former boss Jesse Marsch’s final game in charge – and could step into central defence in place of Wober.

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