Leeds United: Mowatt, Cook and Silvestri have been stand-out players – Gray

SAFE BET: Leeds United goalkeeper Marco Silvestri was particularly impressive in February's win at Middlesbrough, above. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
SAFE BET: Leeds United goalkeeper Marco Silvestri was particularly impressive in February's win at Middlesbrough, above. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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ALEX Mowatt and Lewis Cook both played for their respective England youth sides this weekend and it’s good experience for them.

They are mixing with fellow good young players from other clubs and it doesn’t do them any harm.

Going on international duty, at whatever level, is a great experience for them.

There’s a danger that they will be brought more into the public eye and the shop window because they are mixing with young players at Premier League clubs.

But both of the boys have got their feet firmly on the ground and they will be looking forward to the run in, as they should be because the two of them have done extremely well.

There’s been a lot of talk about who will be Leeds United’s player of the year and Mowatt will be up there but I think you have got to throw the goalkeeper into the equation.

He’s had some outstanding games and has kept us in games for long periods of time.

But Alex’s contribution from midfield and the goals he has scored, he’s got to be up there.

You would imagine Lewis would get the young player of the year award.

There’s a few young players in the side that have done well but Lewis has come into the side at a very young age and he’s proved his worth.

You would imagine he would be a very, very strong contender for young player of the year.

But I don’t think any of our players will win any of the main Championship awards as you’ve got to look at the league table.

The boys have done well but we can’t get too carried away as we are in the middle of the table.

There are lads at teams at the top of the table that have done really well.

The current team are getting results and they are playing with confidence and it’s as good as we have done for a long time.

But I still think that to be a serious challenger next year we have to improve. We have to go up another gear and we need a few players if we are going to be there challenging.

We’ve got to start the season running and I think that Neil Redfearn will be trying to put things into place for the start of the season so that when the kick off comes we are ready to go to compete with the best sides – and that’s got to be the aim next season.

And it’s not just going be the teams that are in the league that don’t go up next year but there’s also going to be the teams that come down from the Premier League.

You’ve got to say that the team have done tremendously well recently and it’s actually championship-winning form recently from the points they have picked up in recent months.

That’s now got to be the aim from the start of next season. We have young players who will have more experience under their belt and they will be more confident that they can play right at the top of this league and that they can compete with the best sides. That’s got to be the aim for everybody.

On the flip side, you’ve always got to be wary of teams coming in for your best players but that goes for everyone and not just our side.

Even sides that are doing well in the Championship and sides that drop out of the Premier League, they’ll be wary of their best players getting looked at by Premier League clubs and more established Premier League clubs. It’s always a problem for sides when you are not playing at a highest level and that’s the nature of football.

That’s something you have got to cope with.

Off the field, chief operating officer Matt Child has left the club but I don’t really know the circumstances behind that.

I’m just concerned about the football side of the club at the moment and we’ll wait and see what happens at the end of the season as far as the football club going forward and what’s going to happen with us.

We now have seven games left starting with Blackburn at home on Saturday and we’ve just got to try and win as many games as possible and climb as high up the league as we possibly can.

The team have turned a corner since the start of the new year.

They are doing very well and we just hope it continues so that when we get to next season the optimism is there for the fans, the players, and everybody connected with the club.

Oxford United manager, Pep Clotet.
 PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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