Leeds United v Nottingham Forest: YEP Jurors give their verdicts

Rudolph Austin.
Rudolph Austin.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Nottingham Forest.

GARY NEWBOULD

Following another three points on the road last time out, United return to Elland Road tomorrow afternoon when they entertain Nottingham Forest.

A dogged performance on a pudding of a pitch earned the spoils at the DW Stadium and it is that sort of performance and character behind it that will serve the Whites well.

Whilst United have registered a good run, the visitors have seen a similar resurgence in form, winning six of their last 10 encounters with former United forward Dougie Freedman at the helm.

Forest may still harbour play-off aspirations, but their nine-point deficit from sixth place will mean that only victories will do from now on.

Former Leeds loanee Dextor Blackstock could feature for Forest, whilst Neil Redfearn may be blessed with an embarrassment of riches should Sam Byram, Liam Cooper and Rudy Austin recover from the injuries. I’d very much expect the same team to start as at Wigan; it would be foolish to risk anyone with Championship safety pretty much secured.

The highlight of this season has to be the emergence of some real talent through the club’s youth system with Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor all very impressive, whilst the re-emergence of Luke Murphy has been akin to signing a new player.

With 47 points already gleaned United can consider themselves all but mathematically safe, but the last 10 games of the season will be just as important for off-field matters.

Hopefully, those currently in charge will recognise that United’s resurgence has occurred at the same time as that most rare commodity – stability at LS11.

I very much hope that before the end of the season a statement of intent is issued by actions and not just words. That statement could not be clearer than providing Redfearn with a two-year contract as well as showing similar commitment to the “blossoming youth” that has pretty much saved our bacon this year before the Premier League vultures start to circle.

With those foundations in place – and a strong finish – we could see a real boost to next year’s season ticket sales, thereby increasing Neil Redfearn’s war chest for 2015-16.

I’m expecting goals, but hope Leeds cut the Forest down to size.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Nottingham Forest 2.

KEITH INGHAM

Fresh from the seventh win out of 10, Leeds face a resurgent Nottingham Forest tomorrow.

Neil Redfearn’s team has done very well against teams in the top 10, the only recent home defeats being against Brentford and Watford since the start of 2015. If the league had started in January, Leeds would be in the top three – an interesting thought for the people running the club.

New deals for Redfearn and Thompson, his assistant, and the young players doing so well need to be forthcoming.

Nottingham Forest are usually one of the teams people ‘tip’ for the play-offs most seasons and it was strange that Stuart Pearce’s spell as manager was so unsuccessful.

Forest spent a lot of money pre-season, but Pearce’s reign was short and ex-Leeds loanee and Bolton manager Dougie Freedman took the reins and a rise up the table has followed.

Their latest victory was over table-toppers Middlesbrough, inspired by winger Michail Antonio with Dexter Blackstock getting the winner (another player Leeds need to be wary of).

Redfearn’s squad may be boosted by Granddi Ngoyi who has a full week of training after a recent injury, while Berardi or Cooper vie for the left-back spot as Charlie Taylor has moved to left midfield.

Last season Forest did the ‘double’ over Leeds but with the Leeds’ team’s recent work ethic I’m hopeful of another three points for the Whites. Expect another tight game.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Nottingham Forest 1.

STEPHEN CLARK

With very little to play for, it would be understandable if Leeds United’s season petered out to an inevitable mid-table finish, but the excitement that is building “Redders Rookies” means that Elland Road may well see it’s biggest crowd of the season for the visit of Nottingham Forest tomorrow.

To call the youngsters in the United team rookies is a little unfair, with Mowatt and Byram in particular in the top end of the club’s current appearance list. What is perhaps generating as much interest is the raft of players seemingly banging on the door of team selection, particularly following the 5-0 win for the Under-21 side in midweek.

It’s very easy to get carried away and throw all the young players in together, but it is vital that they are immersed into the first-team pool gradually. The future does undoubtedly look bright, but the club must bring in some experienced heads to guide the youngsters forward, whilst doing the utmost behind the scenes to secure the long-term future of the likes of Sam Byram and Lewis Cook.

Forest have mounted a revival under Dougie Freedman and are on the fringes of the chaotic promotion race. They head to Elland Road with three points very much on their mind, looking to enjoy a little more luck than they did at the City Ground earlier on in the season, when for once Leeds got the best of the decisions from the referee and his assistants.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Nottingham Forest 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

United could be taking on Forest in front of the largest home crowd of the season. Ironic given this is probably our first appearance at Elland Road when promotion and relegation are both all but discounted.

That freedom hopefully allows Neil Redfearn to start bringing in fringe players and some of our younger talents.

Growing positivity, a change in the weather and a bumper crowd means all the more challenge for Nottingham Forest to deal with and the United players should be looking to build on their recent solid performances and really put a team to the sword.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Nottingham Forest 1

JAMES HARRISON

Potentially the biggest crowd of our season could be inside Elland Road tomorrow to witness the game against Forest. Both sides are on a good run so it should be a great game.

Since Dougie Freedman took over at the City Ground, they have enjoyed a swift change in form. After beating Middlesbrough last week they will be coming full of confidence hoping they can still reach the play-offs. They have sold out their allocation so it should be a cracking atmosphere.

We have nothing to fear, though. I feel we can beat anybody at the moment. We’re creating lots of chances so I’m expecting a high-scoring game! Let’s hope for three points.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Nottingham Forest 2.

JONATHAN FORD

We come back to Elland Road having won a game at Wigan that tested our ability to grind out a 1-0 without playing amazingly well, and we passed with flying colours.

Forest under Dougie Freedman will be tough to beat.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Nottingham Forest 1.

NICE TO MEET YOU: Kalvin Phillips and Luke Ayling meet the Leeds fans on tour in Scwaz. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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