Leeds United in last chance saloon

Paul Green.
Paul Green.

After four games without a victory it is more or less win or bust for Leeds United over Easter when it comes to their promotion chances.

While the performances in those last four matches may have merited more than the three points they brought in the fact is that at this stage of the season it is all about results now and the Whites have missed a glorious chance to cut the gap on the teams in the top six.

They remain eight points behind in-form Nottingham Forest in fifth and seven adrift of out of sorts Leicester and Brighton, who have been one of the most consistent sides in the Npower Championship.

To say United’s play-off hopes are hanging in the balance would be a clear under-statement so they go into the Easter double-header in desperate need of six points from their away game at Ipswich on Saturday and home match against Derby County on Monday.

It increasingly looks likely that Neil Warnock will remain in charge for the trip to Portman Road with the directors having plenty to contend with in their own battle to stay in charge never mind getting round to replacing the manager as many thought they would following the defeat to Huddersfield Town.

In contradictory reports that came out at boardroom level last week it was initially suggested that the Elland Road club was up for sale, but the club directors put out a response in which they reiterated that they were only looking for extra investment, not to sell their full stake in the club.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the club and rumours growing strength that Steve Parkin was preparing to launch another takeover it should surprise no-one that one available manager to take over from Warnock has gone elsewhere with Nigel Adkins opting to take the Reading hot seat on Tuesday.

Other candidates mentioned in connection with the Leeds job include Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Brian McDermott and Roberto Di Matteo, but with no apparent movement on Warnock’s successor he has seemingly therefore been left to get on with managing the club and has vowed to keep the fight going until it is mathematically impossible to reach the play-offs.

At least he has been aided by all bar three of the Leeds players being given a rest because of the international break.

But Paul Green has been away on duty with the Republic Of Ireland and gave a typically battling display when playing a full 90 minutes in their 0-0 draw in Sweden. The Pontefract midfielder was left out of the starting line-up, however, for the follow-up game against Austria on Tuesday.

Rodolph Austin played twice for Jamaica and Tom Lees was included in the England under 21s squad, but injury victims Ross McCormack (Scotland) and Steve Morison (Wales) were pulled out of their national teams.

McCormack is expected to be given the all-clear for Saturday and will come in for Habib Habibou, who has yet to show what he can do in the first team since his January move from Belgian football.

More changes to the team that lost to Huddersfield are in the pipeline with David Norris and Michael Brown both pushing for a recall in midfield where Austin is doubtful after his long travel back from the Caribbean.

Leeds take on an Ipswich side still struggling to get clear of the relegation zone, although they gave their chances a boost with a 1-0 home win over Bolton in their most recent game and are proving a hard team to beat under manager Mick McCarthy.

On Monday United have a big hoodoo to get over when they host a Derby side to who they have lost on each of their last eight meetings.