Speaking as his squad applied the finishing touches to their preparations for the game, Jokanovic shed light on the midfielder’s growing influence behind the scenes since arriving at Bramall Lane in August.
Despite joining United on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Jokanovic cited Gibbs-White’s contribution both on and off the pitch during a discussion about leadership and whether their disappointing results in the Championship so far this term are a reflection of his players’ character.
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“Morgan Gibbs-White can be a leader in this team and he is becoming one, because he has shown that he is ready to take responsibility and help to drive others on,” Jokanovic told The Star. “He can go beyond what he has to do as an individual.
“Leadership exists in many forms. It exists during games and also in training. It is not a question of having one or two leaders. You must have a group full of them.”
“When we are not successful enough with our performances, then ‘leadership’ always comes up,” added Jokanovic, with United travelling to Berkshire 17th in the table. “Do you have enough people who can help lift the team and help us (the coaching staff) with our jobs?
“I have enough numbers, I believe, and enough experienced men. There is no need to ask me to name names because people know who the leaders in the dressing room are.”
United will enter the game hoping to end a winless run which stretched to four matches following last weekend’s goalless draw with Coventry City. Robin Olsen, Lys Mousset and George Baldock, who all missed that fixture through either illness or injury, are again expected to be absent. Reading, in 20th, could have Alen Halilovic and Dejan Tetek available following fitness issues while Danny Drinkwater has recovered from a soft tissue problem.
“I believe we have leaders in the tean,” Jokanovic said. “We have enough prestige, now we must show more personality to change our situation. I don’t have the sensation my team isn’t motivated. But we do have some bad habits that mean we aren’t being as successful as we would like or can be.”