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Javi Gracia’s press conference pre-Chelsea – injuries, tactical switches and approaching Chelsea “aggressively”

Leeds United make the trip to West London on Saturday to face fierce rivals Chelsea as they seek to pull further away from the relegation zone.

Gracia has been speaking to the media ahead of the fixture, and you can catch up with all the information you need to know right here.

On injuries

As has been the case with all his press conferences so far, Gracia has remained tight-lipped about the injury status of his players.

“You are really concerned about injured players but they are in the best hands to recover as soon as possible,” he said (as per Yorkshire Evening Post).

“I don’t like to speak about injured players. To be honest, some of the players I don’t know if they will be ready or not.”

This – presumably – means players such as Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw and Luis Sinisterra remain on the sidelines. What is less certain however is whether defenders Liam Cooper, Pascal Struijk and Max Wober – all of who were absent from the squad in Tuesday’s FA Cup match against Fulham – will be available for selection.

Rutter and Bamford starting together “a real option”

Whilst Gracia has chosen to play Georginio Rutter and Patrick Bamford as lone strikers so far, this could change against Chelsea. Whether Leeds set up in a 4-4-2 or more narrow 4-2-2-2 to accommodate this switch is unknown.

“It’s an option [to start]. A real option to play with two players up front. In this case in the last game I am happy with the way Georginio played,” Gracia revealed.

“Speaking about next game, I think it’s a good option for us to play with two players up front, with Georgi, Bamford, with all the attackers in the club.”

Bringing “balance” to the squad

Gracia is a managerial figure frequently praised for his adaptability, and it seems as if he is already proving this at Leeds. In his words, he has been trying many “different” approaches since his arrival at the West Yorkshire club to see what works best.

“When I arrive, I think they worked many times with other managers, technical staff and I think they did their job. Of course I tried to give them different options to attack or to defend and trying to be more compact.

“All the balance that I thought we needed to do. You have the time you have and you are a little bit limited. With the attitude and quality they have, of course I believe in the team and I think they are playing now with a balance, in different moments we want to play and this way I’m sure we have more chances to get results that we need.

“Different things we’re doing, different videos, different training sessions.”

Approaching the Chelsea game “aggressively”

The 52-year-old was also quick to state his awareness that Saturday’s match will be “demanding” for all involved. In terms of preparation, he is focusing on telling his players to be “aggressive” in all moments of the game in order to earn victory.

“I think it’s important to start very aggressive, to continue very aggressive and to finish more aggressive.

“To go to Stamford Bridge it’s always very tough and I had that experience and I know how demanding the game will be.

“In this moment, the necessity they have as well in terms of points then we have to be very focused and prepare for a demanding game.”

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