LEEDS UNITED head coach Neil Redfearn has paid his central midfield department a sizeable compliment – labelling them as ‘probably the best in the Championship.’
United, who travel to Fulham tomorrow night for a reunion with former strikers Ross McCormack and Matt Smith, are enjoying a new year renaissance with the form of the likes of Lewis Cook, Luke Murphy and Alex Mowatt a key component in their upturn.
Mowatt has chipped in with four goals in the past month and been named in the SkyBet Championship Team of the Week on two occasions, while Murphy has looked a player transformed this calendar year following a fraught first half of the season.
Both have played their part in United’s buoyant run of seven victories in their past 13 league matches, with teenager Cook instrumental in a number of those wins.
Nottingham Forest manager Dougie Freedman referred to Cook as United’s dangerman ahead of Saturday’s 0-0 draw, with the 18-year-old already one of the hottest properties in the Championship along with Mowatt.
Redfearn said: “Lewis is a fantastic young talent and part of a really strong midfield.
“He is obviously going to get that sort of attention and our midfield is playing well.
“We have probably the best midfield in this division, centrally and teams are going to try and stop it.
“We have talked about rotating around to get the spare man on the ball through the last week and I felt we did it quite well (on Saturday), to be fair.”
Tomorrow’s trip to Fulham is the first leg of an away double-header, with United travelling to rock-bottom Blackpool 72 hours later.
The Craven Cottage clash is likely to come too soon for the injured duo Rudy Austin (thigh) and Sam Byram (foot), with Redfearn set to experiment and look at one or two more of his academy products in the games and weeks ahead.
Kalvin Phillips and Lewis Walters have both been on the bench in recent games, with Redfearn expected to have a closer look at them at senior level in the not too distant future, with Leeds comfortable in mid-table and able to start planning for next season.
Redfearn said: “We know about some of the players from previous games. There are players out of the picture now who were playing before and we know about them.
“We’ll maybe experiment and try one or two things. We’ve got one or two young players.
“There are a couple of players I’d like to see before the end of the season.
“There might be a point where we change it around a little bit. But if it’s not broke and you’re playing well, you don’t fix it.
“I’ve got a good idea of what the players here are about. But sometimes you need to experiment just to see how they actually look in the heat of battle.
“There’s a difference between and Under-21 game or training and actually being out there in front of 30,000 at Elland Road. There’s that to think about, but there’s time yet.
“But it’s important that we still keep some momentum because momentum’s an important thing, especially when you’re going to try and hit the ground running next season.”
United under-21s face Crystal Palace today at Tooting and Mitcham FC (2pm), with loan signing Granddi Ngoyi to feature after shrugging off a thigh problem.