Leeds United: Full steam ahead now in promotion push
With the international breaks over for a while now it is full steam ahead for Leeds United as they prepare to get back into action for a potentially crucial period in their promotion bid.
It has been something of a calm before the storm in the last few days before the Whites now face nine Sky Bet Championship games in 38 days in their next block of matches – a testing period bound to put a strain on a squad seen by many as being a bit too thin to deliver promotion.
It will be a good mix of matches with United set to go up against a number of mid-table sides as well as a couple of likely title rivals.
Back to back home games greet Leeds’ return to action and give them an opportunity to perhaps regain their top of the table position which was surrendered with the beating at West Brom in the last game before the latest break.
Bristol City are their next opponents at Elland Road in a rare Saturday 3pm kick-off before another home match swiftly follows against Reading next Tuesday.
With neither club having the necessary consistency it would seem to finish high in the table this season Marcelo Bielsa and the United supporters will be looking for maximum points, although they have to be wary as league table positions count for little in a division appearing to be more competitive than ever.
Leeds also have to get over a worrying statistic in recent seasons that shows they rarely win the first game after an international break.
Bielsa has yet to taste success in one of these games this season, drawing at Millwall in September and losing at Blackburn in October.
It may be that with the Whites’ multinational squad these days they have players travelling round the world to play for their country in these breaks while their opponents are able to utilise the week off better with fewer international players in their line-up.
United had Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Stuart Dallas playing for Northern Ireland in the last week while Mateusz Klich was in the Poland squad, Ezgjan Alioski in the Macedonia squad and Tyler Roberts in the Wales senior set-up.
Pontus Jansson was pulled out of the Sweden squad with a foot injury, but that could present further problems for Leeds if he is unable to recover in time for Saturday’s game with fellow defenders Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi already ruled out longer term with injuries and no other senior centre-half at the club.