GARRY MONK said a changed Leeds United line-up would respect the “most famous domestic cup competition in the world” tonight as he backed his fringe players to carry the club into the FA Cup’s fourth round.
Monk plans to adopt the same policy used by him during United’s run to the quarter-finals of the League Cup this season by resting key players at Cambridge United this evening but he called on his side to make sure of a third-round win and extend their impressive form.
Leeds head for the Abbey Stadium on the back of a five-match unbeaten run and long period of positive results which have set up a promotion bid in the Championship.
Monk balanced United’s league fixtures and their League Cup ties in the first half of the term by making large number of changes for the knockout games but his side made the last eight before losing to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in November.
Leeds landed League Two opposition in the FA Cup’s third round in the form of Shaun Derry’s Cambridge, a side who Monk believes have “ambitions of going up” from their division and will have a capacity crowd behind them tonight.
But United’s head coach said: “The key for us is our desire and our football.
“For me it’s the most famous domestic cup competition in the world. It’s something all players look forward to playing in and we’ve used the League Cup already this season to give us momentum and a winning mentality. We need to do that again.
“Yes, we’ll make changes for the game and we have to get the balance right but it’s a balance between keeping freshness and going there determined to win.
“It’ll be difficult. Cambridge are doing very well and they’ve got ambitions of going up so they’ll use this as a springboard for that I’m sure. The ground’s very tight and there’s a big crowd expected. They’re winning
games so they’ll be confident.
“As I always say, we have to respect the opponents and work on their strengths but we also have to concentrate on ourselves. If we put 100 per cent into the game we know we’re capable of winning. Whether it’s a cup game or a league game we go into it fully prepared to win it. It’s been our approach this season and it’s our approach for this game. Hopefully it serves us well.”
Leeds maintained their promising league position with a return of two wins and a draw from three games after Christmas. The club’s only dropped points came in an unfortunate 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, a match which was followed by a crushing 3-0 win over Rotherham United.
“Our performances were very good in all three games, apart from the first half against Rotherham,” Monk said. “It should have been nine (points) and probably should have been nine but seven is a good return.”
Left-back Charlie Taylor is likely to be missing again this evening with an Achilles problem but Monk has no fresh selection concerns.
Centre-back Pontus Jansson is currently on nine yellow cards, one away from a mandatory two-match suspension.