Leeds United aim to end away day blues

Debutant Habib Habibou battles for the ball with defender Ben Turner for Leeds United against Cardiff. Picture: IAN HARBER
Debutant Habib Habibou battles for the ball with defender Ben Turner for Leeds United against Cardiff. Picture: IAN HARBER

Leeds United must put the disappointment of an unlucky home defeat to Cardiff quickly behind them as they look their end their recent away day blues in two games in the next week.

With just one win in their last 10 away games in the Npower Championship the Whites now face sides at the opposite ends of the table when they go to Wolves on Saturday and quickly follow up with a travel to Middlesbrough next Tuesday.

With neither team in good form it could present an opportunity for United to improve their away record, but Neil Warnock’s men will have to improve substantially on performances in their last four league travels when they were well beaten at Barnsley, Hull City, Nottingham Forest and Derby.

Manager Warnock sees no reason why the away form should have taken such a turn for the worst as his side have produced good displays to win at Huddersfield and Bristol City in particular and were competitive without winning against play-off rivals Millwall, Burnley and Brighton.

After bringing in six players in total during the January transfer window he has given himself a few selection problems for Saturday’s game at Molineux, but hopes to be able to make a welcome change from the side that failed to score against Cardiff with Steve Morison expected to come in up front.

The player swapped for Luciano Becchio plus a bit of cash has a lot to live up to in replacing the Argentine crowd favourite and top scorer this season. Morison was unable to make his debut last Saturday after being unable to shake off an injury that left him out of the Norwich line-up in recent weeks, but he was able to train on the day of the Cardiff game and is likely to be given his chance to start against Wolves.

Who he comes in for will be one of the tricky decisions facing Warnock as Ross McCormack has rediscovered his goal scoring form and his recent striker partner, El Hadji Diouf, has been United’s most consistent forward this term.

If there is to be any reshaping in midfield to accommodate both Luke Varney would be unlucky to be dropped after his displays against Tottenham and Cardiff and on-loan Ross Barkley oozes class even if he has not yet fitted in too well with his new team-mates.

Elsewhere in the team, the manager has another big decision to make at left-back with Aidan White doing little wrong in the last four games, but coming under pressure from new signing from Aston Villa Stephen Warnock.

Whatever team is picked a tricky challenge can be expected against Wolves if history has anything to go by. Molineux has traditionally been one of the more difficult grounds for Leeds to go to and although their hosts have dropped to a worrying fourth from bottom position they can cling onto a record of having not lost to the Whites at the ground since 1990 – and that was only in a Zenith Data Systems Cup tie.

On their last five visits to the ground for league matches United have picked up just one point and scored only one goal so they to overcome another of their hoodoos – something they could not overturn against bogey side Cardiff last Saturday.

Leeds have a much better record at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium with wins on their last three visits, although they will be without Becchio, who has been their main goal scoring weapon against Boro.

Manager Warnock sees the next few games as important if his side are to maintain their challenge for a play-off place,

He said: Every game is crucial for us now and we’ve got a tough month ahead so it’s extra disappointing not to have taken anything from Cardiff.

“I hope we don’t play as well at Wolves and win.

“But I don’t see any reason why we can’t play like this away from home now. We’ve got three away games now which couldn’t come much tougher - Wolves, Middlesbrough then Manchester City in the cup.”