Stuart Dallas remains confident over Leeds United's Premier League bid despite Sheffield United defeat
Stuart Dallas insisted he was confident that Leeds United would overturn Sheffield United’s advantage and snatch automatic promotion for the Championship despite Saturday’s costly defeat to the Blades.
The Northern Ireland winger backed Leeds to reel in a top-two place and avoid the uncertainty of the play-offs when the season ends in eight games’ time.
United are virtually assured of a top-six finish having amassed 73 points already but their challenge for an automatic spot was hit last weekend by a 1-0 loss to Sheffield United.
Chris Wilder’s side won a key derby at Elland Road to move above Leeds into second place and take control of the last automatic promotion position heading into the international break.
Victory would have given Marcelo Bielsa’s players a five-point advantage over the Blades with only 24 points left to compete for.
Dallas, who appeared as a substitute in the second half, gave credit to Sheffield United for “coming and getting a result” but said he was optimistic that Leeds would respond when the season resumed at home to Millwall on March 30.
Dallas told BBC Sport: “Everybody’s positive. We had a disappointing result at the weekend and it was a chance to open up a gap between us and Sheffield United but full credit to them. They came and got a result.
“We’ve eight games left to go and I’m more than confident we can continue our push and hopefully come the end of the season we’re up there.
“It would be great to get a club like Leeds back up to the Premier League but we’re under no illusions about how tough it’s going to be. The Championship’s difficult, anyone can beat anyone, but I believe on our day we’re one of the best sides in the league. Hopefully we can show that over the next eight games.”
Dallas is among the Leeds players who departed for international duty this week and is due to feature in international qualifiers for Northern Ireland against Estonia and Belarus.
The winger’s chances under Bielsa this season have been limited, in part due to a fractured foot suffered in December, and his last start came away at Sheffield United on December 1.
Dallas said: “As a player it’s not ideal if you’re coming away and you’re not playing at club level but it’s up to you to keep yourself fit and the club will do as much as they can for you.
“At Leeds, if you don’t play on a Saturday you play for the reserves so you are getting game time there. I perhaps haven’t played as much in previous weeks as I would have liked but it hasn’t been helped by the injury I picked up at the start of December. I’m fit and probably fitter now than I’ve ever been.”