Victory over Bolton Wanderers gave Neil Redfearn the perfect start to his third stint as caretaker boss but Leeds United’s head coach warned his players to prepare for a “different animal” at the Reebok Stadium tomorrow.
Leeds took advantage of a struggling Bolton side in the first month of the Championship season, claiming a 1-0 win two days after the dismissal of ex-head coach David Hockaday, but Bolton have climbed the league rapidly since appointing Neil Lennon as manager in October.
Lennon, the former Celtic boss, replaced Dougie Freedman who fell on his sword after two difficult years in charge, and Bolton have taken 24 points from 13 matches since then, moving comfortably clear of the relegation places.
Leeds are increasingly desperate for a result with one point separating them from the table’s bottom three but Redfearn talked up his own record as he looked ahead to tomorrow’s match.
“They’re a different animal now,” he said. “They’re more workmanlike, they’ve got confidence through results and Lennon’s got belief back in the side.
“It’s funny because his influence has been similar to what’s happened here. He’s got six points more than me. He’s picked up 24 points, I’ve picked up 18 and that’s two wins’ difference. Sometimes you’ve need to have some perspective.
“This is a big game for us but since I’ve come in, every game’s been big. We’ve lost our way in the last couple (of league matches) but we have to take the game to Bolton and make sure they know they’re in a contest.”
United captain Stephen Warnock will be missing with an ankle injury but Jason Pearce is fit after a knee problem and should appear on the bench.
Long-term absentees Aidan White, Lewis Walters and Zan Benedicic are all still missing, however.
Redfearn said Benedicic – the Slovenian on-loan from AC Milan – was in Italy after knee surgery and yet to begin a full rehabilitation programme.
United’s boss insisted again that his squad would turn the corner after five league games without a win, saying: “The desire’s still there and the lads desperately want to do well. And we do need a little bit of luck. They’re not that far away.”