Leeds United: ‘Silently confident’ Roofe targets top two finish

Leeds' Kemar Roofe holds the ball up from Preston's Ben Pearson.
Leeds' Kemar Roofe holds the ball up from Preston's Ben Pearson.
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Kemar Roofe insisted a “silently confident” Leeds United squad were still in contention for a top-two finish after arriving at the halfway point of the season with a crushing win over Preston North End.

Leeds routed Preston 4-1 on Monday to retain a tight grip on a Championship play-off position but Roofe believes an extension of the club’s current form will open the door to automatic promotion.

Garry Monk’s side sit eight points behind the top two after Brighton beat Queens Park Rangers to move above Newcastle United into first place yesterday, but Leeds are among the division’s form teams after eight victories from 10 league games.

Roofe, who scored the opening goal in an eventful match at Preston and has been prominent in United’s recent run, said Leeds had set themselves the target of reaching the play-offs before the season began in August.

But asked if he thought automatic promotion could be within reach, Roofe said: “Of course. Why not? If we keep winning week-in, week-out we’ll see where we get to and claw the teams above us down.

“It’s calm in (the dressing room). We’re silently confident but obviously we go game by game, we don’t get carried away and we concentrate on ourselves.

“When you start looking at other teams and start looking up the table I think that’s when you start struggling, but I know as long as we look after ourselves we’ll be alright.”

Monk refused to set any specific targets publicly after taking over as Leeds’ head coach in June but the club have now made their best start to a Championship season since relegation from the Premiership in 2004.

United lie fifth in the table with 41 points, two points ahead of Derby in seventh.

Roofe described qualification for the play-offs as a “massive” ambitions for Monk’s squad, saying: “That was our aim in pre-season. We all came together and we all said we wanted it. Hopefully we can get in there comfortably as well - or maybe automatic.”

Tomorrow’s match away at Aston Villa is Leeds’ last before the end of the year and the start of the January transfer window.

Monk is looking to recruit a new striker next month and Leeds remain interested in a loan deal for Ashley Fletcher, the youngster who joined West Ham United from Manchester United in July amid unsuccessful attempts to bring him to Elland Road.

Fletcher has made two league starts for West Ham this season and his immediate future depends on the arrival of new strikers at the London Stadium.

Leeds are also expected to add a winger to their squad and could bring in extra cover at centre-back, despite expectations that Sweden international Pontus Jansson will join the cub permanently in the weeks ahead.

United have the option to convert Jansson’s season-long loan from Torino into a full-time deal for a fee of around £3.5m once the popular defender makes 20 appearances. He will reach that mark if he plays at Villa tomorrow and in Monday’s clash with Rotherham United at Elland Road.

Monk said: “He’s committed to us and obviously he has to reach a certain amount of games. We have the option. Pontus is very happy being here and decisions will be make. The club will make the right decisions and I’ll make the right decisions for the squad going forward.”

Pablo Hernandez’s loan from Qatari club Al-Arabi expires in January but Monk confirmed earlier this month that Leeds had a deal in place to make the 31-year-old’s move permanent.

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira

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