Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn defended his players and urged them not to lose heart after their four-game unbeaten run ended with a controversial defeat to Brentford on Saturday.
Redfearn moved to rally his players ahead of tomorrow night’s visit to Reading following a 1-0 loss at Elland Road which kept Leeds in full view of the Championship’s relegation zone.
United remain five points clear of trouble after Millwall were beaten at home by Huddersfield Town but a second-half strike from Brentford midfielder Alex Pritchard was enough to inflict United’s first defeat since the turn of the year.
The Yorkshire club are rapidly heading towards a vital meeting with Millwall at Elland Road this weekend but United will look to set themselves up for that match with a first-ever win at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow.
Redfearn, who accused referee Graham Salisbury of denying his side two penalties and ignoring a handball in the lead-up to Pritchard’s goal, said: “The most important thing is that the players keep their togetherness.
“We’ve got it about us at the moment and we’ve got to keep it until the end of the season. I’ve got to keep the boys buoyant because we’ve been doing the right stuff recently. We can’t look past that.
“We’ve played better than that (on Saturday) but we still looked solid and we locked horns with a good side. It was a frustrating day for the players because we competed. We did enough to get something.
“I didn’t think Brentford were sparkling but they’ve got a toughness about them. I’ve seen them play better too but for an away performance, they came and toughed it out like we did at Huddersfield last weekend.”
Captain Liam Cooper is a slight doubt for the visit to Reading, though Redfearn expects the centre-back to recover from a dead leg in time to play.
Leeds will also have Giuseppe Bellusci available after the Italian defender completed a two-match ban and won his fight against claims that he racially abused Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome during a game at Carrow Road in October.
Bellusci was cleared of misconduct by the Football Association on Friday, more than three months after the alleged incident involving Jerome occurred. His recent ban was imposed following red card in Leeds’ 1-0 win over Bournemouth last month.
“It’s good all round,” Redfearn said. “It’s good for the club and the name of the club and it’s good for the lad.
“What (was said to have) happened didn’t happen so we all move on. Beppe’s missed the last couple of games so he’s got to get himself up to speed again.”