By Alex Stevens

Kyle Bartley has claimed Garry Monk was right to substitute three of Leeds’ best players in their 1-1 draw against Wigan on Tuesday – as they need protection.

Leeds fans reacted angrily to Monk’s use of substitutes against the Championship strugglers at Elland Road after he took off attacking trio Chris Wood, Hadi Sacko and Pablo Hernandez when his team were a goal ahead.

Leeds were unable to hold out for a win as Shaun MacDonald grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser, which meant that Monk’s side remain in 13th in the Championship table.

Sacko and Wood had earlier combined for Leeds’ 29th minute goal, with the on-loan Sporting Lisbon winger crossing for the striker to score for the eighth time in the league this season.

Centre-back and stand-in skipper Bartley explained their were key factors in Monk’s decisions to replace the key trio against Wigan.

“The fans, the media, they don’t always know the whole picture,” Bartley told BBC Radio Leeds. “Woody has been travelling away for internationals and Hadi has been struggling a lot with a couple of knocks.

“It’s a long season and the players need protection. Obviously the gaffer has made what he thinks is the right decision and then it’s up to the players who come in on their place to offer us something else and have an impact on the game.”

Monk delivered an upbeat message to fans on Wednesday afternoon although he accepted that errors from his players need to be rectified.

“Although we’re heading in the right direction, we must learn from our mistakes and keep working hard to improve,” Monk said his personal Twitter account.

Fans took to social media to lambast Monk for replacing Sacko with Matt Grimes after 66 minutes, Hernandez with Alex Mowatt after 74 and Wood with Marcus Antonsson with five minutes remaining.

In other Leeds news, a senior player is destined to leave the club in January.