Leeds United banking on home comforts to revive play-off hopes

Two wins from their last 12 matches cannot fill anyone with huge confidence, but with four of their next six at home Leeds United are clinging to hopes that they can revive their play-off hopes this month.
Connor Wickham gets a header in during his debut for Leeds United at QPR. Picture: Simon HulmeConnor Wickham gets a header in during his debut for Leeds United at QPR. Picture: Simon Hulme
Connor Wickham gets a header in during his debut for Leeds United at QPR. Picture: Simon Hulme

Three of those upcoming home games are against sides struggling in the bottom seven of the Sky Bet Championship with the other, next Tuesday, against play-off rivals Reading, so it is clear that results at Elland Road can have a huge bearing on how long the Whites can maintain their promotion hopes.

At any rate, Leeds will be pleased to be back on home soil against Bolton Wanderers this Saturday – and back to a 3pm kick-off – after a long month on their travels and a run of four straight away games.

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They have only lost one of those to show that they have made themselves a solid proposition once again after the January slide, but draws at QPR last Saturday and at Middlesbrough the previous week have seen United lose ground on several teams above them .

Both saw opportunities missed against sides woefully short of confidence and have left the Whites down in 12th place, eight points behind Wigan who took over sixth place last weekend.

With Reading, who were in sixth, having failed to win either of their last two games, including only drawing with eight-man Yeovil last Saturday, it is still just about feasible that Leeds can reach the top six, but they cannot afford many more missed chances.

Manager Brian McDermott tried to strike a positive note after the 1-1 draw at QPR – which came courtesy of Ross McCormack’s 24th goal of the season after he had earlier seen a penalty saved by Robert Green.

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He said: “You’d take a point before the game, but as the game panned out it was disappointing not to take all three.

“We should maybe have killed the game off in the first half.

“But it is what it is, another point on the board and I just want positivity around Leeds United. We haven’t had much lately.

“We are still waiting for the takeover to be completed but it is a much calmer place now.”

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There was plenty of promise in the debut of new striker Connor Wickham, who signed for the rest of the season from Sunderland last week, and McDermott is hoping to add one more player before the loan window closes later this month.

Wickham, who scored against United when on loan at Sheffield Wednesday in January, joined the other recent recruit, fellow England under 21 international Jack Butland as the manager has looked to freshen things up and has been backed financially by prospective new owner Massimo Cellino.

The team already looks stronger for both players’ presence and under the league rules the Whites can still have one more loan player.

“We are still looking and we still want to bring in one more player if we can on loan,” said McDermott.

“We don`t want a number of loan players, but we want loan players who we can turn into permanent moves.”