Leeds United v Blackburn: YEP Jury give their verdicts

Sol Bamba.

Sol Bamba.

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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Blackburn Rovers

MATTHEW EVANS

Following a decade when barely a season went by without European qualification, relegation or promotion on the cards, the last four have fizzled out.

And, as a fan, it makes these last few games hard work. Football is never less interesting than when it doesn’t matter.

But this season there is added intrigue. 2010-11 was the last time we made it through a season with the same manager (thanks mainly to Brian McDermott’s one-game sacking last year) and what followed was a string of excuses.

Earlier this campaign, that seasonal cycle seemed to condense itself into half-a-dozen games.

At Christmas, with a hugely unbalanced squad, turmoil in the boardroom and unrest in the stands it looked perfectly feasible that United would be turning out in League 1 again next season.

But Neil Redfearn has been impressive in the way he has shunned excuses and used a “we’ve got what we’ve got” attitude to see United race away from the bottom three and become a form team, one of the division’s hardest sides to beat.

He’s used his valuable knowledge of the academy to make Byram, Cook, Mowatt and Taylor among the first names on the team sheet. His handling of Luke Murphy has paid dividends and the renewed form of Marco Silvestri, alongside the addition of Sol Bamba in the heart of defence, has made all the difference.

Any normal club would be signing up the players and management alike and preparing a transfer window akin to crafting the missing pieces of a proverbial jigsaw.

The trouble is, Leeds United is not any normal club and whether any of that happens remains to be seen. That’s why these games are crucial.

Redfearn needs to keep the pressure on the board to renew his contract and have a clear idea who in this squad he wants and, more importantly, who is going to be available to him next year with a host of players on loan to buy deals, one or two out of contract and several attracting admiring glances from the Premier League.

It’s also a crucial time for the fans to put the pressure on because we shouldn’t accept anything other than some ambitious building on these solid foundations that Redfearn and his team have laid.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Blackburn Rovers 0.

KEITH INGHAM

The latest international break brought appearances for Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt at international youth level.

Mowatt impressed versus USA, as did Cook in his game versus Azerbaijan but he returned to Leeds after his debut with a injury that could keep him sidelined at the weekend. It’s a tribute to Neil Redfearn and his staff that the duo have made such an impact this season.

Tomorrow, Blackburn Rovers visit Elland Road, the first of two games over the Easter period.

Gary Bowyer’s side sit 10th in the Championship and are another team much like Leeds that are safe in mid-table. With striker Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede amongst their ranks, the much improved rearguard at Leeds might have a busy afternoon. Ex-Leeds player Matt Kilgallon should also feature in the game. In midfield, ex-Liverpool Jay Spearing could provide a few ‘sparks’ when confronting Murphy and Mowatt.

With the squad (apart from Cook) fully fit, Neil Redfearn has one or two options to think about. Either Mirco Antenucci – two goals in consecutive games – or Billy Sharp to lead the line and in midfield if Cook is unfit, Rudy Austin, Kalvin Phillips or Chris Dawson could replace him. A settled side is one reason why the results have improved in my opinion.

I have the opportunity to see the game from the ‘gantry’ in the West Stand and I’m hopeful I’ll witness another Leeds win.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Blackburn Rovers 1.

GARY NEWBOULD

Following the break for the internationals, Leeds United return to Sky Bet Championship action as they entertain Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road tomorrow, putting their five-game unbeaten run on the line.

On the back of representing England we’ll probably see Lewis Cook rested due to injury and Alex Mowatt may well be given a similar break after a busy time.

However, this will present an opportunity for others to impress in front of what is predicted to be another bumper crowd tomorrow at LS11.

It could well be a tight affair, but a victory would see the Whites leapfrog their opponents.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Blackburn Rovers 1.

JAMES HARRISON

It feels so long since our last game at Blackpool.

We have had time to regroup in that time, however, and rest and hopefully have a very strong finish to the season.

Lewis Cook picked up a knock on England duty but let’s hope it is not too serious and he will be fit for the run in after a good rest.

I felt that we were unlucky not to get anything from the game against Blackburn last time.

Conceding a soft goal and a penalty was heartbreaking but we are more ruthless now than we were then.

There should be a big crowd inside Elland Road after having two weeks off and I am confident we can come away with all three points!

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Blackburn Rovers 0.

JONATHAN FORD

We head into Easter having had an international break but one of our shining lights has come back injured. Lewis Cook has been a revelation but maybe it’s time for Kalvin Phillips?

Four points from six would be a good return from Easter.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Blackburn Rovers 0.

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