Birmingham City v Leeds United: O’Kane wary of threat from struggling Blues

CONFIDENT: 'Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane, in action during the recent 1-0 win at home to Hull City.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
CONFIDENT: 'Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane, in action during the recent 1-0 win at home to Hull City. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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MIDFIELDER Eunan O’Kane has warned Leeds United not to expect to have matters “all their own way” in tomorrow’s Championship clash against struggling Birmingham City – but remains confident the Whites can secure a fifth straight league win.

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United head into their trip to St Andrew’s in impressive form having amassed 16 points from their last six games, their 2-1 success at Burton Albion on Boxing Day taking them to within five points of second-placed Bristol City.

Birmingham, meanwhile, are rooted to the bottom of the table having slipped to their fifth defeat in seven games with a 2-0 reverse at home to Norwich City on Tuesday.

The Blues are now three points adrift of safety and exasperated manager Steve Cotterill said there were problems with “absolutely everything” regarding his team following their loss to the Canaries.

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Victory could see fifth-placed Leeds further crank up the pressure on their promotion rivals and, when asked if tomorrow’s encounter with their West Midlands rivals was one they could win, O’Kane said: “I think it is.

RETURNING? Leeds United's Samuel Saiz may return from injury to face hosts Birmingham on Saturday.

RETURNING? Leeds United's Samuel Saiz may return from injury to face hosts Birmingham on Saturday.

“But no-one is easy to beat in the Championship.

“If you look at the results on Boxing Day there were a few shocks in there.

“It is up to us to go down there and make sure we put on a professional performance.

“It might not go our way to start with, like at Burton, but we have to pick ourselves up and try and pick up those three points.

It’s somewhere that’s not the nicest of places to go but I think with the form that we are in and with them having a little bit of a tough time, hopefully we will be able to come away with a positive result.

Leeds United’s Eunan O’Kane

“It’s somewhere that’s not the nicest of places to go but I think with the form that we are in and with them having a little bit of a tough time, hopefully we will be able to come away with a positive result.”

O’Kane played the full 90 minutes of United’s latest positive result as United’s winning run continued with that 2-1 triumph at fourth-bottom Burton.

Republic of Ireland international O’Kane was making his first start since the 2-0 win at Barnsley at the end of November in which the 27-year-old was substituted after 58 minutes after picking up a hip problem.

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Kalvin Phillips then partnered Ronaldo Vieira in centre midfield for United’s next four games, but O’Kane returned to the first-team line up to take the place of Phillips during the come-from-behind win at the Pirelli Stadium.

Vieira, meanwhile, was taken off in the 77th minute and replaced by Phillips - just over 15 minutes after receiving a crunching tackle from Burton’s Tom Naylor.

Reflecting on his own condition and fitness, O’Kane said: “I’m fine now and the hip was just a little bit of bruising that needed to settle down and thankfully now it has.

“Hopefully, I will stay in the team for a while now.”

Whites head coach Thomas Christiansen is also hoping to welcome back Spanish No 10 Samu Saiz for the trip to St Andrew’s.

The attacking midfielder has missed United’s last two games with a calf injury.

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