Leeds United: Milanic ready for first taste of a Yorkshire derby

Darko Milanic.
Darko Milanic.
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Darko Milanic says he is ready for his first taste of a Yorkshire derby on Saturday - and will call on his experience of the “little wars” he witnessed as a player in the Eternal Derby in Belgrade.

Milanic, who is looking for a first victory as Leeds United boss against Sheffield Wednesday this weekend, said the atmosphere at Elland Road would come as no shock to someone who played in one of Europe’s fiercest rivalries.

Milanic was a defender with Partizan Belgrade for seven years and appeared in numerous clashes with Red Star, the Serbian capital’s other major club.

The former Slovenia captain said: “I played in a lot derbies and also a big derby - Partizan versus Red Star with 80,000 people.

“It was a little war - one month before and one month after the game. It was very important to win this game. But in that moment, Red Star were extremely good. They were a Champions League team, a very good team.

“In south Europe, derbies are war. In Serbia, in Slovenia, in Greece - it’s war, a little war. But only a little war.

“I know that derbies are special. A derby is not a usual game. It’s special for the fans, the president, the coach and the players. It’s really important.

“We have to be very intelligent tomorrow. There’s a lot of emotion and we have to be motivated - but not too much.”

Leeds have taken one point from two games with Milanic as head coach and they will come up against the tightest defence in the Championship tomorrow.

Milanic said Brazilian midfielder Adryan was likely to be named in his matchday squad having been included in an initial group of 19 this afternoon.

“He’s selected and we are 19 players at the moment,” Milanic said. “For me it’s extremely difficult to say after one week but he has a lot of potential.

“He understands the game, he makes the team better and he’s able to do good things in offensive midfield.”

The United boss also hinted that Billy Sharp, a former Sheffield United striker, could start against Wednesday having made an impression as a substitute during a goalless draw with Reading in midweek.

Sharp has not started any of the past three games but Milanic said: “He’s not happy with the situation and I understand this. He’s a good (player). All the team have to make a good job in training and then they have an opportunity to play.”

On-loan AC Milan midfielder Zan Benedicic is unavailable with a knee injury and young left-back Charlie Taylor is facing a spell on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery.

Aidan White, who has not featured this season due to a problem sustained in the summer, is still completing his rehabilitation.

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