GARRY Monk insists Saturday’s showdown with Sheffield Wednesday will not define Leeds United’s season with the head coach continuing to take matters game by game.
Yorkshire rivals Leeds and Wednesday will lock horns at Elland Road for a clash that is potentially crucial to both sides’ prospects of finishing in the Championship’s play-offs.
Only goal difference separates the fifth-placed Whites and sixth-placed Owls who both have a six-point cushion back to seventh-placed Fulham who also have a game in hand.
Leeds visit Fulham for a potentially key fixture a week on Tuesday, four days after next Friday night’s trip to Birmingham City.
First comes Saturday’s potentially enormous clash with the Owls – a game Monk admits is extremely important – but United’s head coach knows there are still 13 games left in the regular season and not just this one.
“This game will not define the season, but there are three very important points available,” said Monk.
“All derbies are different, but they mean a great deal to everyone and our mentality is to try and win the game.
“We are very much a game by game approach. Three points are the most important and we will try and fight as hard as we can for these three points.
“That’s the mentality we have, that’s the focus that we have and that’s how we focus the players –to give their maximum for each game ahead of them and not to focus on anything else that is out of your control.
“The only thing we control is our preparation which we have done this week and getting ready for this three points that are ahead of us.
“It will be the same for every game that is remaining and the most important thing now is the next game.”
Monk added: “Sheffield Wednesday are a very good side.
“They are a very experienced side, they have added in the summer and in January on the back of a very good season last season.
“With it also being a derby game and both teams on the same points and both fighting at the higher end of the league, all of those ingredients make it a little bit more interesting shall we say from the perspective of both sets of fans.
“But what we have to do is remain focused on ourselves and our mentality and fight as hard as we can and put our best football on the pitch like we try and do every week and see if that can take us to the three points if not the one point.”
Asked what might be the key to success in a potentially white-hot derby, Monk admitted: “It’s to be focused on the football.
“At the end of the day, when you strip it back, it’s 11 v 11, it’s a grass pitch, there’s one ball and you have to focus on your jobs while you are on there.
“It can be difficult but I think going back to where this group were at the start of the season – I think they have improved immensely.
“This is another chance for them to show how far they have come in terms of their mentality and the way they want to go about it.”