'We'd have bitten your hand off' - Stuart Dallas evaluates first half of Leeds United campaign ahead of 'crucial' Preston North End test

STUART DALLAS says Leeds United would have “bitten your hand off” if offered their current league position at the start of the season.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 11:50 am
PLENTY TO APPLAUD: For Leeds United's Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Second-placed Leeds are heading for Christmas having taken just one point from their last two games with Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at Fulham following the previous weekend’s 3-3 draw at home to Cardiff City in which the Whites led 3-0 after an hour.

However, United had previously won seven games in a row as part of an 11-game unbeaten run that, together with 20 points from the club’s first 10 games, has Leeds eight points clear in the automatic promotion spots.

Sheffield Wednesday now head the chasing pack in third with both fourth-placed Fulham and United’s fifth-placed Boxing Day visitors Preston North End nine points adrift at the Championship’s halfway stage.

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Dallas admits the Elland Road showdown with Preston is “crucial” but the Northern Ireland international says his men can definitely be satisfied with their overall position 23 games in.

“If you’d have said at the start of the season that halfway through the season you would be eight or nine points clear of the chasing pack we’d have bitten your hand off,” said Dallas.

“In saying that, from the positions that we have been in, last week dropping the points at home to Cardiff and Saturday losing at Fulham are disappointments so I think it shows how far we have come.

“But we are happy with the position we are in. We are not happy with Saturday’s result but we are in a good position.”

Assessing the importance of the Boxing Day clash against Preston, Dallas admitted: “It’s massive. I think every game is big now, every game is huge.

“This is a crucial part of the season, games are coming thick and fast and we have got to be on it from day one from minute one and it has been shown in the last week or so that if you are not then anybody can beat anybody in this league.”

Alex Neil’s Lilywhites approach the Boxing Day showdown having taken four points in their last three games in response to four consecutive defeats.

Leeds, though, who are three points behind leaders West Brom, are still long odds-on at 1-7 to finish in the top two.