Leeds United: Losing Killa's a blow, but an honour too - Lorimer

Losing Neil Kilkenny to the Asian Cup is not ideal from Leeds United's perspective.

In a perfect world, I'm sure Kilkenny himself would rather this tournament was being played outside the English season.

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But international honours are precious and hard-earned and he's done well to force his way back into the Australian squad. On the basis of his performances since August, he deserves his call-up. As unhelpful as these competitions can be for clubs and managers, players should never feel guilty about taking part in them.

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Leeds have been in this sort of position many times in the past, most notably with Lucas Radebe. His selection for the African Cup of Nations was always a bitter pill to swallow and a source of controversy.

Leeds were basically asked to lose one of the best defenders in the Premiership to a tournament which some people in these climbs saw as meaningless or low-profile. But I know how much representing South Africa meant to Lucas and I understood exactly why he wanted to be there.

The English public might ask "what's the Asian Cup" but it's a tournament which means a great deal to the players who take part in it.

It's their version of the European Championship. But there more to this than the Asian Cup. I look at Kilkenny and see a 25-year-old footballer with bags of talent; someone who could quite easily be a part of the 2014 World Cup if he plays his cards right. He's not going to earn that fabulous opportunity by refusing to go to Qatar next month.

I get the feeling that Leeds have viewed his call-up philosophically. Both Simon Grayson and Ken Bates seem genuinely delighted for him and rightly so. Clubs are always pleased to be represented at international level. But it's a blow to be facing a month without a player who has contributed so much to the season so far.

As a whole, I don't see the need for major changes to the squad at Elland Road in January. On the attacking side of our squad, we barely need any additions at all. When I watch Leeds going forward, the quality of their play is obvious. They're a top class outfit and a side who would have a good go at outscoring any other club in the Championship.

But additions to our midfield ranks would be useful, particularly now that Kilkenny is heading off to the Middle East, and a bit more strength at the back would not go amiss. At times, Leeds still look a bit vulnerable in that area.

All the same, I wouldn't say that our defending as a whole is poor. The problem against Portsmouth on Tuesday was individual errors as much as anything else. That's something you can eradicate with better concentration and better organisation and there's no call at all for a major overhaul of the backline at Leeds.

But with the season at the halfway point, this is clearly the time to kick on. In a way, the club have done the hard work by putting themselves in a position where the play-offs and automatic promotion are possible. You'd never have predicted that two months ago and it would be nice to take advantage.

With the league as it is, I don't doubt that the manager, the chairman and everyone inside Elland Road will look to make the most of our position next month. We're one of the clubs who could be stronger at the end of January than we are at the start of it - and that's not true of everyone.

Vurnon Anita.

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