united in a strong place says varney

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Luke Varney last night claimed that Leeds United were entering the new season with a stronger and more resilient squad than they possessed at the start of the summer, saying: “We’re in a great place.”

The United forward backed his team-mates to stand up to the rigours of the Championship and improve on last season’s disappointing finish despite a period of limited transfer business at Elland Road.

Varney claimed that Leeds were “one or two deals away” from being in ideal shape and stressed the need for a strong start to the Championship term – despite manager Brian McDermott playing down the importance of the first month.

United are anticipating a crowd of more than 30,000 for Saturday’s opening match against Brighton and Varney, who spent yesterday afternoon selling tickets at Elland Road, described the fixture as a “game to get our teeth into” after a fractious meeting between the clubs last April.

Brighton have undergone more substantial changes than Leeds since then, sacking former manager Gus Poyet and bringing in ex-Barcelona player Oscar Garcia to replace him, and McDermott’s new signings number just three – Matt Smith, Noel Hunt and Luke Murphy.

Further arrivals appear unlikely before the new season begins but Varney said: “I feel like we’re in really good shape.

“The competition up front has totally changed with Noel and Matt coming in and adding Murphy to the midfield improved us there. I’ve heard rumours that the gaffer’s after another defender or two and if that happens then we’d be stronger in every area, for sure.

“He’d probably say himself that we’re one or two deals away but for me the mentality and the togetherness of the squad is much stronger too. We’re in a really great place, I honestly think that.”

United’s previous clash with Brighton on April 27 – their last home fixture of the 2012-13 season – was marred by three dismissals including one red card shown to El-Hadji Diouf for an offensive gesture made towards Albion’s supporters. Brighton earned a 2-1 win with a goal scored two minutes from time.

Varney said: “We were disappointed with the way that game finished and not very happy if truth be told so this might not be

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Ivan Bravo with Leeds co-owner Andrea Radrizzani, back row second from the right

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