Junior Firpo echoes defiant message of Leeds United teammates ahead of Championship play-off final

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Leeds United are one win away from a return to the Premier League but must beat a Southampton side who have done the double over them.

Junior Firpo insists the momentum from last week’s 4-0 thumping of Norwich City should put Leeds United in good stead for Sunday’s play-off final clash against Southampton.

Leeds look to have rediscovered their form at the perfect time, having put an admittedly woeful Norwich side to the sword in the second-leg of their semi-final. Firpo set up Crysencio Summerville for the fourth goal with a smart cutback and is now part of a defence that has kept consecutive clean sheets once again.

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Southampton will present a much tougher task come Sunday and Russell Martin’s side hold the psychological advantage, having done the double over Leeds during the regular campaign. But Daniel Farke, Ethan Ampadu and Joel Piroe have all since stressed that past results mean little and Firpo has echoed the opinion of his teammates.

“I think it is one of those weeks where when I walk down the street with my family, everyone is buzzing and giving you a big boost for the game, so I can feel that it is a big week for the club,” Firpo told LUTV. “I think we did a really good performance [against Norwich] and I think it might have been the best one of the whole season.

“To do it in the semi-final of the play-offs shows you what this group is like, the confidence and how good we are when we are in that mood. Especially the fans, they gave us a big boost.

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“We played Southampton really early in the season when our squad wasn’t the same, and then we played them on the last day of the season. Now it is a final, so I am sure it will be a really different game. We don’t know what will happen, but what we know for sure is that we will show the same excitement as we did for Norwich.

“Obviously, it will be a really important game. Having the chance in the play-off final at Wembley, where I have never played, I think will be one of the most important games in my career for sure. We need to go there and do what we are used to.”

Leeds will take confidence from the performances that took them beyond Norwich, with Firpo part of the side that shut out a free-scoring Canaries side over 180 minutes. Defensive stability was the bedrock of United’s 15-game unbeaten run earlier in the year and the drop-off after the international break coincided with slip-ups at the back.

Keeping Southampton out will take a huge effort and the performance of Firpo will be key, with the left-back struggling against the pace and trickery of Saints right-back Kyle Walker-Peters in the 2-1 final-day defeat at Elland Road. But the Dominican Republic international will be equally keen to affect the game going forward and to the eight assists he has registered so far this season.