Leeds will head into the final ten matches of the season with manager Simon Grayson insisting: We are not feeling the pressure.It is around this stage of the campaign that nerves can creep in, causing some surprising results.But with Paul Jewell’s Ipswich due at Elland Road tomorrow, Grayson said: “The fans are enjoying the season and we will continue to play with a smile on our face.“There are no nerves in the camp and the lads are in vibrant mood. They are buzzing, which was proved in the game against Doncaster when we scored five goals. That was the sign of a team enjoying what they were doing and not feeling the pressure.”
United, who climbed to fifth in the Championship with their 2-1 win at Preston on Tuesday night, are just three points behind second-placed Swansea.The race is on for an automatic promotion berth and the final two matches of the season are potentially crucial.In their penultimate fixture on Saturday, April 30, United have home advantage against a Burnley side who are currently seventh but with two games in hand.The final game is then at QPR, who have a seven-point advantage at the summit but offered hope to the chasing pack by surprisingly losing at Millwall on Tuesday.
Leeds’ run-in, with current positions in brackets, reads: Ipswich (16th) H, Sheffied United (22nd) A, Nottingham Forest (sixth) H, Millwall (12th) A, Derby (19th) A, Watford (11th) H, Reading (eighth) H, Crystal Palace (21st) A, Burnley (seventh) H, QPR (first) A.
A third successive victory tomorrow would provide a perfect start to the season’s last lap and Grayson said: “Eight or nine teams will think the automatic promotion spots and play-off places are up for grabs with 30 points still to play for.“I am sure it will go down to the last couple of matches. It is a ten-match season now. We have over-achieved, bearing in mind we were only promoted last May, but this is a great opportunity for us.”Grayson has to decide whether to restore leading scorer Luciano Becchio to the starting line-up after Billy Paynter scored his first goal for the club at Preston.Fit-again right back Paul Connolly is challenging Eric Lichaj for his place and midfielder Barry Bannan is in contention for a home debut.
Lichaj is due to return to Aston Villa after the game but Grayson says he is keen to extend the defender’s stay for as long as possible, if his parent club agree.