Billy Sharp hopes his 150th professional goal will keep him in Leeds United’s starting line-up tonight and give him the opportunity to fire the club beyond the safety of 50 points.
Sharp reached a career milestone in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Watford and admitted he would be “disappointed” if his goal and his performance failed to earn him another start at home to Ipswich Town this evening. The 29-year-old – a peripheral and frustrated figure at Elland Road this season – replaced the injured Steve Morison against Watford and took a rare chance by scoring after seven minutes.
Watford eventually fought back from a 2-0 deficit to inflict a late defeat on Leeds but Sharp said: “I thought I did okay and I got my goal. It obviously meant a lot. It didn’t mean much to the team because we lost the game and that’s what matters most but I’ll be disappointed if I’m not starting after that.
“All I want is a run of games and the chance to get a run of goals going.”
Morison, who has played up front as a lone striker regularly since Christmas, missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury but trained yesterday and should feature in head coach Neil Redfearn’s plans tonight.
Redfearn suggested that Sharp would retain his starting place against Ipswich, saying: “We’ll go down roughly the same lines. Billy took his chance well on Saturday. Not only did he score but he played well and he led the line well. That’s all you ask – come in and play well when you get the chance. His response was spot on.”
Leeds moved a long way clear of the relegation places with a recent run of five wins from six games but Sharp – a veteran of numerous Championship seasons – warned the club not to be complacent about their survival.
United are on 41 points and asked if the priority was now to reach the 50 mark, Sharp said: “Definitely. What is it now, 12 games to go?
“Three more wins would be enough and the sooner we get there the better. Then we can plan for next season.”