February is more '˜make' than '˜break' insists Leeds United's Stuart Dallas
THE next five weeks for Leeds United are the epitome of a make-or-break period and the continuation of their present form might render their season broken.
Leeds play six of the Championship’s top-eight clubs in their next seven games, an examination which leaves nowhere to hide.
Leeds have nowhere to hide as it is having failed to win since Boxing Day and they start a crucial glut of fixtures with a four-point deficit to Fulham in sixth, but Stuart Dallas preferred to class February as a chance to shake up the division. United host Cardiff City on Saturday and will meet Sheffield United, Bristol City and Derby County before the end of this month. League leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers will come to Elland Road on March 7.
Thomas Christiansen’s squad are in uncomfortable fettle, in terms of form and the availability of players, and a goalless draw at Hull City on Tuesday marked a fifth league game without a victory.
Dallas, who played at right-back for most of that game after Conor Shaughnessy was stretchered from the pitch, admitted that Leeds were in a position where they had to “stop the rot” but denied that a lack of momentum would be telling in the matches ahead.
“I keep hearing people saying ‘February is a big month’ and if we don’t do this then where will we end up,” he said. “But if we go and have positive results, where do we sit? Does anybody think of that?
“Everybody’s saying ‘if we lose here or lose there’ but what if we win? It’s a different ball game.
“The boys are positive and we’re four points off the play-offs. February is a massive month. If we win on Saturday and look back at taking four points from games away at Hull and at home to Cardiff, I don’t think anybody can argue with that.”
Christiansen had no argument with a draw at Hull after an adept performance from goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald dealt with the best of City’s chances.
Shaughnessy’s injury after three minutes left Pontus Jansson as Christiansen only available centre-back, forcing Gaetano Berardi to partner Jansson and Dallas to moonlight as a full-back.
Dallas missed two months of the season after suffering an ankle injury on international duty with Northern Ireland in November and last started in the Championship in October.
“I’ve been a long time out so it was always going to be a big ask to come on and play the full game,” he said.
“I’m lacking a bit of fitness but I’m only going to get it back by playing games.
“Of course I could have done better but I’m happy just to get the chance, and we’re happy enough with the point.”
Dallas said United’s resilience during a forgettable game at the KCOM Stadium deserved recognition. “None of us in the team have said it was a good performance but we showed a lot of balls,” he insisted. “We showed a lot of courage and we can build on that.
“We’ve gone five league games without a win, the last time we won was at Burton on Boxing Day, but if you can’t win a game you’ve got to make sure you don’t lose it.”