LEEDS UNITED head coach Steve Evans says the scheduling of midweek fixtures in England’s top two divisions so soon after the FA Cup third round “devalues” the historic competition.
Leeds welcome Evans’ former club Rotherham United to Elland Road on Saturday but Evans says he will be forced to make changes in readiness for Tuesday night’s Championship visit to sixth-placed Ipswich Town.
Rotherham also host fourth-placed Brighton the same evening and Evans says whoever was responsible for the scheduling of such fixtures must have been “on a desert island on their own” - asking teams to play three days after what should be one of the most important fixtures of the campaign.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Evans. “But I think it’s a real shame for the FA Cup that whoever schedules the fixtures puts midweek fixtures on the back end of it and that’s both in the Premier League and the Championship.
“Whoever decided fixtures for midweek was on a desert island on their own I think when they decided it - it devalues the FA Cup
“I heard the Sunderland head coach Sam Allardyce speak on the radio saying he was making significant changes for Saturday and that’s a man that has got English football and the FA Cup right through his bones and he’s having to do it to protect the league fixture. We are very similar.
“I have got to sit down with my staff and I have said here it’s democratic, not autocratic.
“My view is that we’d make a few changes for Rotherham but I want to sit down with my staff and make sure that’s what everyone believes we should do.
“But I don’t think there will be faces you have not seen for a while.
“I don’t think we have got the options to do that within the squad, we actually have a very small squad when you look at it.
“We just have to consider carefully what we do but it will certainly be a different team on Saturday to what starts at Ipswich on Tuesday.
“We have got a big, big game against Rotherham and it’s an even bigger game against Ipswich on Tuesday.”
Saturday’s encounter also offers Evans the prospect of gaining immediate revenge against his former side who upset the applecart under former Whites head coach Neil Redfearn with a 1-0 win at Elland Road in November.
“We all knew that hurt because it was a big game for Leeds. That’s the crucial part,” said Evans.
“I think there was too much of a sideshow going on before and after it and it was a bit of a smash and grab. But I have been at Rotherham many times and done many smash and grabs and been the beneficiary as the manager.
“It will be a tough afternoon, Rotherham have got good players and I have always maintained that, players that will go until the 95th minute, if that’s what it takes.
”They’ll be organised under Neil and efficient, that doesn’t change.
“We want to progress and I know that they will, but our focus has to be on managing the cup tie and then making sure we re-energise for Ipswich.”
November’s league clash was also soured by a bitter row between Redfearn and Whites chairman Massimo Cellino, who the Millers boss claimed refused to allocate him a car parking pass.
Leeds refuted those claims, stating Rotherham had been given the standard six passes to use as they please.
Asked if Redfearn would get his car parking pass this time, Evans laughed: “He got one last time. I don’t know what’s going to turn up.
“I think it was Balotelli was it that had the camouflaged car? Maybe he will borrow that for the weekend.”