Archie Gray pinpoints how Middlesbrough could play into Leeds United's hands in crucial Championship clash

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Leeds United head to the Riverside Stadium in pursuit of a spot in the Championship's automatic promotion places.

Archie Gray hopes to be part of a more open game when Leeds United go to Middlesbrough this evening, with the Whites desperate for a return to winning ways.

Leeds have thrown away multiple chances to take control of the Championship’s automatic promotion race amid a three-game winless run. Daniel Farke’s side have faltered at the worst possible time and can count themselves fortunate that both Leicester City and Ipswich Town have also dropped points.

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Leeds fell to a first home defeat of the season against Blackburn Rovers last weekend with familiar issues resurfacing as the opposition team sat deep before taking their chance on the counter. It’s a game plan that Farke’s men have struggled to solve and so the chance to face a more open side could help their cause.

“They've always got a good atmosphere and our travelling fans will be brilliant as well,” Gray told LUTV of tonight’s clash. “Both teams like to play football so it'll be a good game to watch and we'll try to contain their chances. It will be a good game for the fans and hopefully we can get the win.

“There will be a bit more space than the last few games because the last teams have sat off, which in games has worked. But I think the way Middlesbrough play, there will be more space for both teams.”

Leeds could feasibly have been out of the automatic promotion race altogether after recent weeks, with a 15-game unbeaten run followed by the accrual of just one point from nine available. That neither Leicester nor Ipswich won from two games each last week kept hope alive.

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One of the current top-two will need to drop points if Leeds are to avoid the play-offs and there are just three games remaining for them to do so. But Gray and his teammates remain focused solely on their run-in and the 18-year-old insists all eyes are on the future, with no one dwelling on the past.

“As disappointing as the last few games were, you have to keep your head high for the last three games and focus on them, that's what we're thinking,” the Whites youngster added. “We can't change the last few games, as bad as the results were, but we've just got to keep the mood good and focus on the next three games.

“[It’s important] not getting too carried away with wins and not getting too low after defeat, we need to keep a stable mindset and hope it will get us through. We just need to focus on the next game. We're in a good position to attack the last three games and hopefully bring us to where we want to be. These next three games are massive so we just focus on them.”