Leeds United: Ekuban keen to be a regular in Christiansen's starting line-up

Caleb Ekuban saluted a 'really good week' and crossed his fingers for a run in Leeds United's starting line-up after a 2-0 win at Barnsley on Saturday enhanced their top-six chances.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 26th November 2017, 7:00 pm

Ekuban said Leeds were emerging from a spell of three games in seven days with their tails up after beating Middlesbrough and Barnsley either side of a 4-1 defeat to Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers last Wednesday.

United head coach Christiansen gave Ekuban the chance to start up front at Oakwell, just seven days after the striker’s comeback from a broken foot, and Ekuban’s influence told in a convincing victory.

Samuel Saiz and Gjanni Alioski struck before half-time to kill off Paul Heckingbottom’s Barnsley side and keep Leeds in touch with the Championship’s play-off zone but Ekuban’s movement up front on only his second league start since a summer move from Chievo contributed to a deserved success.

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Gjanni Alioski celebrates with team-mates after scoring Leeds United's second goal at Barnsley.

Christiansen fielded him ahead of Kemar Roofe with Pierre-Michel Lasogga absent through injury and asked if he was confident of keeping his place, Ekuban said: “I hope so. I think I helped the team very well but you never know.

“I said the other week that whoever is in top form plays. I think I’ve proved that I’m okay and in good condition, even if I had a long injury. I’m available for the coach and if he calls me, I’m in.

“I think I helped the team as the coach wanted. I tried my best to put the pressure on the defenders – to not let them think and play as they wanted.”

Leeds were under significant pressure at the end of the last international break having lost seven of their previous nine Championship matches but Christiansen’s squad remain in firm contention for a top-six place ahead of Friday’s meeting with in-form Aston Villa.

Caleb Ekuban shows his frustration after missing a chance at Barnsley.

His side responded impressively to a heavy defeat to Wolves in midweek, where United suffered their joint-heaviest defeat under Christiansen to date.

“We’re in good morale because we stood against Middlesbrough and we did a really great job (at Barnsley),” Ekuban said. “We were unlucky at Wolverhampton but they are good. We didn’t achieve what we wanted there but looking at it further we think this is a really good week and we’re ready for the next one.

“(Christiansen) told us that we had to win at Barnsley, we must bring the three points home, but he didn’t stress us. He just let us do what we had to do and gave us the ideas of what we had to put on the pitch. This came through.”

Gjanni Alioski celebrates with team-mates after scoring Leeds United's second goal at Barnsley.
Caleb Ekuban shows his frustration after missing a chance at Barnsley.