Leeds United back on track in time for derby day

Ross McCormack and Alex Mowatt celebrate with Rudy Austin after he scored a goal against Birmingham.
Ross McCormack and Alex Mowatt celebrate with Rudy Austin after he scored a goal against Birmingham.

Leeds United showed they had used their time off to good effect as they came up with their best home performance of the season on Sunday to give themselves the perfect morale-booster for a big derby test to come.

Brian McDermott’s decision to make changes in personnel and radically alter the formation of his team paid off handsomely and his players now make the short travel across West Yorkshire to Huddersfield this Saturday with spirits and confidence renewed.

A 4-0 win over Birmingham lifted Leeds back above their local rivals in the Sky Bet Championship table and was just what the doctor ordered after a run of five defeats in their previous six games.

And in just 90 minutes they managed as many goals as they had in those six matches with Matt Smith and Ross McCormack looking to have found some answers to the side’s problems up front and skipper Rudy Austin having a whale of a time in a new free role just behind the forwards. All three were on target and could have scored more in United’s best attacking display of the season so far.

There were changes at the back also with three centre-backs employed in a bid to find some much needed width provided by wing-backs Sam Byram and Stephen Warnock and manager McDermott was delighted with the way it all went after putting in big work on the training ground and a behind closed doors friendly against Rotherham during the international break.

He said: “That is a starting point for us. I thought the boys were really good.

“The international break came at a really good time and it gave us an opportunity to work on things.

“We have been working hard and we scored some good goals.

“We have been desperately trying to find a way to play and get the ball out wide and I thought some of the performances were outstanding.”

McDermott added: “Now we focus on Huddersfield Town and it’s another three points that are up for grabs.”

McDermott will not expect Town’s defence to be as inviting as Birmingham’s proved when Leeds go to the John Smith’s Stadium for Saturday’s derby kicking off at 12.30pm.

But he is likely to stick to the same starting 11 after the good job they did against the Blues with no injuries reported. He could have a couple of additions to his squad with United closing in on deals for forward Dexter Blackstock and defender Marius Zaliukas, but if they do sign in time they will almost certainly have to settle for a place on the bench to start with.

Huddersfield will be pumped up as ever for the game their fans most want to win this season, but will be without top scorer James Vaughan after he was sent-off against Leicester.