Josh Warrington: It’s an ideal opportunity for Smith to step up to plate

Boxer Josh Warrington thinks the squad is a little lightweight.

Boxer Josh Warrington thinks the squad is a little lightweight.

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In your opinion, what chance do Leeds United have of winning promotion?

I’m laughing a bit because who really knows? I don’t know anything about a few of the signings who’ve come in – apart from what I’ve read. They might be great but I couldn’t say that for certain and I reckon there’s a big difference in style between the Championship and Serie A or Serie B. My feeling is that we’ll surprise a few people but if we want to be talking about promotion seriously then the squad needs a bit of strengthening still.

How do you think David Hockaday will fare as head coach at Elland Road?

All he’s had so far is a load of slagging and a lot of stick and to be honest, I feel a bit sorry for him. It’s not his fault that he’s been offered the job and it’s impossible to say how he’ll get on. I won’t lie – when he was appointed, I’d never heard of him. I didn’t know who he was. But at the same time I’m right behind him. We’ve tried more experienced managers in the past and it hasn’t worked. Maybe he’ll bring something different. He’ll get a fair chance from me.

Who will be the club’s key player?

Big Matt Smith will be one of them. To me, he was under quite a lot of pressure last season. We had Ross McCormack’s goals to fall back on and Smith wasn’t the main man but he was stepping up from League One and he had to prove that he was good enough for the Championship. He’s had one decent year, his confidence should be up, and I reckon he’ll step up to the plate. Somebody has to because McCormack scored a bucket-load of goals last season and we didn’t get too many from anyone else.

Who will be the surprise package in the squad at Leeds?

It’ll be one of the young lads. Lewis Walters, Lewis Cook, someone like that. We’ve had it with Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt in the last couple of years and the thing I like about the academy players is that they always, always, give 100 per cent. I remember watching Chris Dawson last season and he was all over the pitch like a little whippet. I love that.

Which clubs do you expect to pose the biggest threat in the Championship?

Fulham are going to be strong because they are clearly spending plenty of money. As usual, the sides coming down will have a big advantage and some of them will go back up. Look out for Derby too – they’ve been building for a while and a bit like Leicester, they’re going to come good soon. I’ll rule Blackpool out of the running, though. What a mess they are.

How would you rate Massimo Cellino’s performance as owner of Leeds and do you believe his reign will be a success in the long-term?

I’m going to like him. I know that for a fact. He’s crackers, obviously, but I like what he says in the media and he seems to be winning a lot of the supporters over after a difficult start. All I hope is that he mixes things up transfer-wise. I don’t have a problem with him signing players from abroad but a bit of Championship experience is key. The worry about young foreign lads coming in is that they get exposed and don’t have anyone around them to steady the ship. But really, we won’t be able to judge properly until we reach Christmas.

Where do you think Leeds will finish in the Championship table?

Eighth. My heart says we’ll win the title... but my heart always does.