Preston North End v Leeds United: Party on hold as Christmas Day training beckons for Whites

Garry Monk.
Garry Monk.
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GARRY Monk’s Leeds United side will be training on Christmas Day evening with the head coach declaring: “you are here to win games and do what you have to do.”

Leeds ensured they would sit in the Championship’s play-offs over Christmas by recording a last-gasp 1-0 triumph at home to Brentford on Saturday, Kyle Bartley heading home an 89th-minute winner.

Bartley and his Whites team-mates were then handed a “few days” to rest and recover but United’s players will then return to training this week in readiness for Boxing Day’s trip to 11th-placed Preston North End.

Monk’s men will be putting in the festive hard yards in a bid to record an eighth win from their last 10 league games, with Boxing Day’s trip to Deepdale preceded by a training session on the evening of Christmas Day.

“We are in Christmas evening,” confirmed Whites head coach Monk.

“They need a few days now to recover – it’s important physically and mentally.

“They have been through a lot so they need to get those few days now.

“They will get their rest now and then we will get working in midweek when we’re back to work.

“We’re here to win games so you have to do what you have got to do. They (the players) all know that anyway.”

Bartley’s late Elland-Road winner on Saturday prevented Leeds from slipping out of the play-offs given that sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday bagged an even later winner in a 1-0 triumph at home to Rotherham United.

Seventh-placed Derby County also drew 2-2 at Fulham and would have gone above Leeds on goal difference but for Bartley’s late intervention.

But Monk’s Whites have now picked up a fantastic haul of 34 points out of a last possible 48 – with only leaders Newcastle United and second-placed Brighton bettering that tally with 37 and 40 points respectively over those 16 games.

Even so, Leeds are still only fifth, though just three points behind third-placed Reading.

“We are not too worried about where we are in the league,” said Monk.

“It’s great that we are where we are, it shows we are doing something right as a team, but our main fight is for the three points that are ahead of us.

“Everyone is winning I suppose and that’s why it is most important to concentrate on yourself.

“We can’t get too worried about who’s winning where and what, all you have got to do is fight for your three points and do it as hard and as best as possible.

“All I care about is the improvement of the team and the development of this team.

“They are going through loads of scenarios, especially in recent months, that have had to test them and push them and put them in scenarios that a lot of the young players have not experienced. They are coming through it which is good to see.

“That’s really the only thing I focus on.”

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