DEFIANT defender Pontus Jansson has thrown his weight behind Leeds United’s automatic promotion bid, insisting “slumping” Newcastle United and Brighton can still be caught.
Fourth-placed Leeds sit eight points off the Championship’s top two, with United slashing the gap through Saturday evening’s impressive 2-0 defeat of second-placed Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road. Leaders Newcastle United are nine points ahead of Leeds, who the Whites will take on at St James’ Park on Good Friday, April 14.
The fixture is one of only eight remaining league games for Garry Monk’s Whites, who are consequently still around 33-1 shots to finish inside the top two.
But centre-back Jansson believes United still have prospects of finishing in the division’s automatic promotion places, especially with Brighton and Newcastle showing frailties at a crucial time. Brighton have won only two of their last five while Newcastle have picked up just two points from their last three games.
Speaking to Swedish daily newspaper Sydsvenskan, Jansson said of United’s automatic promotion prospects: “It’s a possibility. The teams at the top, Newcastle and Brighton, begin to slump a little. We do not lose many games and are very stable.
“As long as there is a theoretical possibility, we need to aim for the top two.
“And eight points is not much in the Championship.”
Jansson is currently away on international duty with Sweden, who will host Belarus in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday evening. The Swedes then travel to Portugal for a friendly next Tuesday.
United’s Swedish defender has proved a revelation since initially joining Leeds on loan from Italian Serie A club Torino in the summer.
Jansson reasoned: “There was hardly anyone knew who I was when I arrived (from Torino) last summer.
“People thought, well, that it was yet another ‘Italian’ who came and would flop, but I’ve done well, fought on the pitch.”
The six-foot-five centre-back will sign a three-year contract at Elland Road in the summer – with an agreement already reached between Leeds and Torino which both clubs are confident is watertight.
Jansson’s impressive displays have nevertheless still seen the 26-year-old linked with interest from the Premier League, including from Southampton.
“It would be foolish to think of it now that I’m in Leeds, a huge football club that has not been in the Premier League in a long time,” said Jansson when asked about Premier League interest.
“It would be foolish to focus on something else. I made a good season and we take it as it comes, but right now it’s full focus on Leeds.”