By Alex Stevens
Leeds’ defenders punched Tammy Abraham in the face during their team’s 1-0 midweek defeat to Bristol City, according to Lee Johnson.
The City manager has claimed the on-loan Chelsea striker was given some rough treatment by his markers at Ashton Gate on Tuesday.
The teenager striker, 18, has emerged as a target for opposition defender after shooting to the top of the Championship goal charts since moving to the second tier club from Stamford Bridge for the 2016-17 campaign.
His growing reputation, enhanced by 10 goals in all competitions this season, ensured he was singled out in Tuesday’s showdown.
“Tammy told me he got a punch in the face in the first half, Johnson said, as quoted by the Bristol Post. “Leeds are very strong and they tried to lock him out. He got hit a couple of times and it was a good game for him.
“When defenders do that to him, it is a compliment really. If I was a defender, I definitely wouldn’t want to mark him. He’s tall, he’s rangy, he makes good runs, he is sharp, he has good feet and he can finish. Over a period of time that is going to catch the opposition out.”
Leeds centre-backs Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson kept a tight rein on the Chelsea youngster in the first half, but Abraham broke free from the shackles after the break to help City register a hard-earned victory.
Johnson added to the Bristol Post: “These things are all testing him and that’s why Chelsea sent him out on loan in the first place. After getting punched in the face, I was interested to see how he would be when he came out for the second half.
“I wanted to see if he could handle the physical intimidation. I loved all of that when I was playing, even though it wasn’t my style. I was quite ratty when it came to the verbals and sledging, because I know how you can win beat your opponent mentally.
“A physical slap in the eye can have the same effect as 70,000 fans heckling him and Tammy has to learn how to deal with all of these situations.”
Leeds’ run of four straight wins came to a halt against City and pushed Monk’s side back into the bottom half of the table.
However, a win against Yorkshire rivals and newly promoted Barnsley on Saturday would see them go to within just one point of the playoffs, if results go their way.
In other Leeds team news, Monk has sent this message to Leeds fans ahead of Saturday’s clash.