Monday, 7 March 2011

Leeds have got what it takes to make Premier League bid insists Kilgallon

MATTHEW KILGALLON believes former club Leeds United have the attacking armoury to clinch promotion back to the Premier League.

The Elland Road club took their goal tally for the season to 67, the highest in the Championship, with a 5-2 derby victory over Doncaster Rovers.

With many of their promotion rivals faltering, it proved to be a good weekend for Leeds who cut second-placed Swansea City’s advantage to five points with their five-star showing against Rovers.

Kilgallon, who was on the bench for Sean O’Driscoll’s side against his former club, believes United have what it takes to push on in the final 11 games and end a seven-year absence from the top-flight.

He said: “Leeds are really good going forward, a real threat and have a great chance of going back up to the Premier League.

“I would love to see that happen. I am a Leeds supporter and always looking out for how they are getting on.”

Against Doncaster, Leeds created a phenomenal 31 chances – 16 of which were on target.

Former Sheffield United defender Kilgallon added: “Not many teams will be able to stop that attack. It is quality. They have one of the best (front) three in the league.

“I think they are as good as the three at Cardiff (Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra), especially after watching this.

“Defenders are scared of people who want to run at them and cross balls in to score goals. Leeds do all three.”

Jonny Howson’s two goals against Doncaster took the United captain’s tally into double figures for the first time in his career.

It also means Leeds have four players with 10 or more goals this season – Luciano Becchio leading the way on 17, ahead of Gradel (14) and Davide Somma (12).

Howson said: “I didn’t set myself a goals target or anything like that. But it is nice to get to double figures.

“We have been scoring goals all season. Maybe with (us losing) the 30-odd goals of Jermaine Beckford, there were question marks over where the goals would come from.

“But I think we have answered them. Going forward, we are capable of causing problems for anyone.”

Defeats for Nottingham Forest, Cardiff City and Swansea City together with Norwich City being held at home by bottom club Preston North End meant Leeds made up valuable ground on the vast majority of their rivals.

With Leicester City, who started the weekend in seventh place, also losing to QPR, the derby win over Doncaster served as a timely boost ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Preston.

Howson said: “We were disappointed after (losing 3-0 at) Swansea and maybe a few people did write us off.

“But this league is so unpredictable and with so many teams still chasing promotion or fighting relegation, there are going to be twists and turns.

“The afternoon summed up our season in many ways. It was a typical game at Elland Road with lots of entertainment and plenty of goals.”

Howson produced a stirring captain’s display against Rovers, with his first goal of the afternoon on 50 minutes being particularly valuable due to it coming less than 60 seconds after Franck Moussa had put the visitors in front.

He said: “It was an important goal. The way Doncaster play, if they could have kept it at 2-1 for 10 to 15 minutes then they could have killed it off.

“But we kept our tempo high and it worked for us. We never know when we are beaten and I think we proved that again against Doncaster.”

For Rovers, the defeat brought to an end the mini-revival that had seen O’Driscoll’s side beat Derby County and claim draws against Watford and Norwich City in their previous three outings.

Midfielder John Oster, an Elland Road old boy, said: “Coming to places like Leeds, you have to silence the crowd.

“When you go 2-1 up, you can get the crowd working in your favour, but they got the goal straight away and it got the crowd behind them again.

“Add in some bad defending and some poor play and the rest is history.

“You will get punished in this division if you are not defensively sound and that is what happened to us.“

Rovers remained 17th in the table after the defeat to Leeds but Oster said: “We have got a few players who came back from injury to come on (at Leeds) and there are more on their way, so we are gradually getting the squad back together.

“All the injured bodies are coming back so I don’t see us struggling at all. We will soon be looking up rather than down.”

On Rovers’ top scorer, Oster added: “I know Billy Sharp’s game inside out so I know that if I clip a ball over the top, nine times out of ten he will get on the end of it. He comes alive in the box.

“I don’t want to see him leave but it is difficult because I also want to see him score goals for us. It is Catch 22. If he plays the way he can play and scores goals like he can, then somebody will probably snap him up. Then it’s up to us to spend the money wisely on a replacement who can score goals. But goalscorers are rare – they’re worth their weight in gold.”

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