Leeds United: Boss Christiansen expecting a response against Fulham

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
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Thomas Christiansen backed Leeds United to rebound from what he called the “disappointment” of Saturday’s draw with Preston North End during a meeting with “one of the best teams in the league” at Elland Road tonight.

Christiansen said United’s clash against a Fulham side he is tipping as automatic promotion contenders would pick his players up from their failure to beat 10-man Preston and act as “extra motivation” on the back of an unrewarding weekend.

Chris Wood scores the equaliser from a spectacular overhead kick against Fulham at Elland Road last August.

Chris Wood scores the equaliser from a spectacular overhead kick against Fulham at Elland Road last August.

North End came through the final half-hour at Elland Road unscathed after Ben Pearson’s 60th minute red card, limiting Leeds to a goalless draw six days after the Elland Road club opened their Championship campaign with a 3-2 win at Bolton.

“In the last part of the game we played against 10 players and creating the opportunities we did, we wanted the three points,” Christiansen said. “This is why the players were disappointed and I’m happy that they’re disappointed about that. It means they feel the game and that they wanted the win. That’s not a problem for me and knowing who we play against tonight will lift them up because we’re going to face one of the best teams in the league, one who plays the best football. That’s an extra motivation.”

Fulham made the Championship play-offs last season, beating Leeds to sixth place in unlikely fashion by reeling off six wins from their final eight games as United’s own form collapsed.

Leeds and Slavisa Jokanovic’s side shared two 1-1 draws last season, the first at Elland Road exactly a year ago in which Chris Wood scored with a dramatic overhead kick on 93 minutes.

The effort was the first of 27 league goals claimed by Wood over the course of the term and his form prompted a bid of £12m from Burnley last week, an offer which Leeds flatly rejected.

Christiansen said he had not spoken to Wood directly about Burnley’s approach or the striker’s immediate future but the United head coach insisted over the weekend that he expected Wood to be part of his squad when the transfer window closed at the end of this month.

“All the players want to try and play in the Premier League,” Christiansen said. “But here he’s an important player. If he goes, will he be first or second choice or third choice? He will not have the guarantee.

“Here he’s an important player for the team and he’s one who can help the team to reach their goals. Why not dream that next year he could be playing in the best league (with Leeds)?”

Defenders Matthew Pennington and Gaetano Berardi will be absent again tonight with ankle and shoulder problems respectively.

The pair were injured at Bolton over a week ago but Christiansen said he was still waiting for precise confirmation of when either player would return to contention.

“I’m not concerned,” Christiansen said. “The medical staff will shortly give us exact diagnosis about the situation of these two players. I think next week we will know something.”

Goalkeeper Rob Green is set to return to United’s squad against Fulham after missing the last two games with a knee injury.