Marco Silvestri claimed Leeds United’s performance at Anfield on Tuesday was proof that the club were on for “something big” this season as Garry Monk’s players looked ahead to another high-profile game against Aston Villa.
United’s goalkeeper, who played in the club’s harsh League Cup defeat to Liverpool, voiced confidence in the likelihood of a sustained push for promotion at Elland Road ahead of Villa’s visit to Leeds this weekend.
Monk’s side resume their Championship campaign on Saturday placed fifth in the table, and optimism drawn from an impressive run of league form was heightened by a creditable display in Tuesday’s quarter-final at Anfield.
Leeds were beaten 2-0 in normal time, picked off by two goals in the latter stages, but Monk was proud of a performance which ran Liverpool close and gave United a sniff of a first League Cup semi-final since 1996.
The club have combined their lengthy cup run with a streak of results which are keeping them in the hunt for a top-six place in the Championship.
Their league campaign will reach the halfway stage later this month and Monk was drawn into discussing promotion on Tuesday, saying Leeds “want it right now, we’re going to fight for it right now.”
Silvestri, whose appearances this term have come solely in the EFL Cup, believes an improved atmosphere is helping Monk’s side after two previous seasons overshadowed by off-field problems and in-fighting.
“I’ve been here three years and we’ve changed a lot of players,” he said. “That’s not always easy but this group is good. All my team-mates are smart people and we can do well.
“When you win, of course it’s easy to stay together but this is a strong group who can do well. We want to do something big in the Championship. We did well in the cup run and we are on for something big this year.”
Tuesday’s last-eight tie turned on a second-half shot from Leeds forward Kemar Roofe which struck a post while the game was goalless. Despite a series of chances, United did not go closer and Liverpool made the most of their fortune to score twice in the final 15 minutes through Divock Origi and Ben Woodburn.
Origi took advantage of indecision between Silvestri and Luke Ayling to stab a close-range effort into the net.
“We were disappointed to lose because we came so close to scoring the first goal,” Silvestri said. “After they went a goal up, it became difficult but the team played very well and gave everything. We’re proud of how we played.
“Before the game we wanted to play the right way. We did that but the result was not what we wanted. We have to take this into the league now. Our position in the table is good but we have to keep our focus and look at things game-by-game only.”
Silvestri helped Leeds book their place in the quarter-finals with three crucial saves in a penalty shoot-out win over Norwich City last month but he has failed to dislodge Rob Green as Monk’s number one.
The Italian said after the Norwich tie that he might look to move on if appearances continued to elude him but he insisted again that he had no argument with Monk’s selection policy.
“For me, I don’t play but the team do well so it’s difficult to change when everything is good,” he said. “I know that.
“I’m here and I try to do everything I can when I play. When the gaffer wants me, I am ready.”