LEEDS United boss Neil Warnock is backing the spirit in his squad to see the club through a difficult month ahead that begins with a trip to Cardiff on Saturday, writes Tony Harber.
Warnock described the next month before another international break as “horrific” with the Whites set to face six Npower Championship matches and a third round Capital One Cup tie against Everton, but believes the camaraderie developed in recent weeks can stand United in good stead.
He said: “We’ve got 18 players and not a bad egg among them. El-Hadji Diouf has this reputation, but he’s fitted like a glove. I think it’s good to have a bit of a rogue around the place, but you can’t find a nicer lad.
“I can’t see a problem on that front and it can only augur well for the next month.
“This is an horrific month. We want to get through and hope we’re in touch.
“But we’ve shown already the lads don’t know when they’re beaten. The lads have to show that resolve.”
Warnock has, however, had to look to the emergency loan market this week to bolster his squad for the trip to Cardiff.
With David Norris likely to be out for up to a month after picking up a thigh injury and Paul Green still a few weeks away from full fitness following his knee injury bodies had become thin on the ground in the midfield area. It did not help either that Michael Brown is also struggling to shake off a hamstring strain and Rodolph Austin faces a long travel after his international exploits for Jamaica in two games against the USA.
Warnock admitted earlier in the week that he was scouring the leagues for a short term midfield replacement and he has been linked with Tottenham’s Jermaine Jenas and Leicester’s Neil Danns, but it was confirmed yesterday that he had signed Stoke City’s Michael Tonge until December.
Tonge, 29, is well known to Warnock from their Sheffield United days and goes straight into the Leeds squad.
The United players already at the club and not on international duty, meanwhile, have been back in full training this week after enjoying a few days off and are focussing on a return to action in the Npower Championship.
They are looking to end a bad run against Cardiff, having not beaten them in any competition since 1984. They did at least draw twice with them last term after City did the double the season before and in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 campaigns.
The Welsh team have the same number of points as Leeds so far this season after narrowly missing out on promotion last term and have signed some big name players to add to the majority of last season’s squad with the likes of strikers Craig Bellamy, Nicky Maynard and Heidar Helguson now available to them up front.