Marcelo Bielsa confident Leeds United's focus will remain on Reading with Sheffield United showdown looming
Marcelo Bielsa is confident that Leeds United’s players will not have one eye on Saturday’s showdown with Sheffield United tomorrow, warning that a lack of focus at Reading would come at a high price.
Bielsa is heading to the Madejski Stadium with an unchanged team after Patrick Bamford handed him a big boost by recovering from the injury which curtailed his appearance at Bristol City over the weekend.
Bamford collided with a post seconds after scoring the only goal of the game and limped from the field in the 57th minutes.
The striker has already come through two knee ligament injuries this season but he was able to train with the rest of Bielsa’s squad this morning and will start against Reading.
Midfielder Kalvin Phillips is also available having fully overcome the twisted ankle which troubled him at Ashton Gate.
Tomorrow's fixture - United’s second long away trip in the space of four days - is a precursor to a huge Yorkshire derby with Sheffield United, bringing together the clubs who are second and third in the Championship.
Leeds hold the division’s last automatic promotion position by two points from Chris Wilder’s Blades and their meeting at Elland Road has the potential to strike a major blow to either side.
Bielsa, though, said the attention of his team was solely on Reading and denied that the weekend’s fixture might be a distraction.
“I don’t think so because the points of this game tomorrow are very important for us,” he said. “You never start playing a game before finishing the previous one.
“You all know as observers that when you look ahead to the next game you never have positive consequences.”
Leeds are two points adrift of leaders Norwich City and will take first place with a victory at the Madejski. Norwich play Hull City at home on Wednesday night.
Bielsa, though, said: “I’m focused on winning the game and I don’t take into account the possible consequences of a win. Our first goal is to win the game. Then we’ll occupy the position the results allow us to have.”
Reading, who lost 1-0 at Elland Road in November after failing to convert a last-gasp penalty, have shown signs of improvement since sacking Paul Clement and replacing him with Portuguese coach Jose Manuel Gomes.
The club are on a run of three wins in five games - almost half of the eight victories they have registered in the league - and Bielsa claimed their position in 19th place was an false indicator of the quality in Gomes’ squad.
"The potential of their team is higher than the position they have in the table,” said Bielsa, whose side have won four of their last five matches.
“The offensive players are fast, the midfielders are good and they have a strong, physical defence. They use the ball well.
“Our results have arrived at the right moment for us but the most important thing is not what happened in the past but what is going to happen in the future.”