“NO EXCUSES” says Whites head coach Garry Monk who insists Leeds United’s mentality at Sutton United would stay the same whether playing on 3G, grass or even concrete.
Monk’s men will take on the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup on Sunday when National League hosts Sutton will look to cause a fourth round shock (2pm).
There are 84 places between the two sides but the Us also ply their trade on a 3G pitch on which the south London side have suffered just three league losses from nine games this term.
Yet United’s head coach has ruled out any possibility of excuses with his team having already dealt with a muddy and wet pitch in the third round at Cambridge United and also preparing for the unique test at Sutton’s 5,013 capacity Gander Green Lane by training on their own artificial pitch at Thorp Arch.
“We faced a game against Cambridge where the pitch was very wet and muddy and that can sometimes be a leveller,” said Monk.
“It’s until the game happens and how it pans out. But I don’t look at it like that and there’s no excuses from us. I’m not a manager that makes excuses and this is not a group that makes excuses.
“We know what is expected of us, we know what we need to do and whether it was concrete, 3G or grass we’d have the same mentality and the same focus.
“The environment there, we have already had that experience in the last game. We are expecting the same in terms of crowd and the way we are perceived as the favourites and they are the underdogs.
“And we are very lucky that we have facilities here at Leeds where we can prepare or mimic as best as possible that surface which we have here and we are using.”
Sutton have already navigated four rounds to reach the third round with the Us having already knocked out Forest Green Rovers, Dartford, Cheltenham Town and AFC Wimbledon.
The Amber and Chocolates also dumped top-flight Coventry City out of the FA Cup third round back in January 1989.
Leeds have met Sutton just once, also in the FA Cup, with United 6-0 away victors back in January 1970. Now managed by Paul Doswell, the club sit 15th in National League – they werre due to play United’s neighbours Guiseley today – having won National League South with a game to spare last term.
“They have done fantastically well,” said Monk. “It’s a typical FA Cup story and it’s something that’s in their history as Sutton has had that history of FA Cup upsets.”
Leeds also have a hugely important Championship clash at Blackburn Rovers just three days later, but Monk is determined to select a side capable of putting United in the last 16. The head coach made eight changes for the clash at Cambridge and said: “I have to get the balance right with the selection for both games. We want to be competitive in both but I have to be mindful that with such a short period and short preparation time in between that I have to manage both situations right so of course there will be changes. But whoever steps on to the pitch will know what their role is and it’s about delivering a high performance.”
BT Sport have announced they will screen the game free to view on Sunday.