Burton Albion v Leeds United: Monk focused on top six, not Jansson’s possible ban

Pontus Jansson.
Pontus Jansson.
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LEEDS UNITED head coach Garry Monk says Pontus Jansson’s disciplinary tightrope is the least of his concerns heading into the crucial final three games of the season.

Centre-back Jansson has been booked 14 times this season and will serve an immediate three-game ban if he picks up one more yellow card at any stage between now and the end of the season, including in the play-offs.

Garry Monk.

Garry Monk.

But Monk says the club’s sole focus is on now merely finishing in the Championship’s play-offs after slipping out of the division’s top six for the first time since November with Easter Monday’s 1-0 loss at home to Wolves.

Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to sixth-bottom Burton Albion, Leeds are already without one of their three natural centre-backs with Liam Cooper still having two more games to serve of his six-match ban issued for stamping on Reading’s Reece Oxford.

Cooper will be available for the season finale at Wigan Athletic but any yellow card between now and the end of the season will see Jansson automatically miss the next three games.

To avoid the risk of missing any part of the play-offs, there were suggestions that the Swedish centre-back should take a cheap booking in Easter Monday’s loss to Wolves.

The defender looked all set to be cautioned in the 89th minute when committing a foul and then shouting at referee Jeremy Simpson before kicking the ball into the stands with a spectacular backheel volley.

Simpson, though, kept his cards in his pocket and Monk says the situation is of considerably less importance than Leeds getting themselves back into the top six.

“It is what it is,” said Monk.

“That’s the least of our focus and we need everyone on the pitch fully committed, ready to do their best and to give ourselves the best opportunity to win these games.

“Those situations are ones that we will deal with if we need to but it’s not as if we have the biggest of squads where you are chopping and changing. We have to be fully focused and committed and that’s what I have seen from them from day one.

“I have seen it for sure this week and I am looking to see that in the game on Saturday.”

Monk also gave a positive update on Cooper who the head coach will have available following next Saturday’s clash with Norwich City at Elland Road.

By the time the final day clash at Wigan presents itself, Cooper will have been absent for five weeks.

“With a situation like that, we have a plan in place for him to try and maintain his fitness as high as possible,” said Monk.

“But all of them, they have got such a spirit amongst the group and they look after each other and they support each other whether you are playing or not playing or whether you are in squads or out of squads.

“They are united and that has been a big strength of ours all season. I don’t envisage that going in these three games and after Monday that has brought that even stronger. We are looking to see that in the three remaining games.”