Neil Warnock will make a late decision on Jerome Thomas’ involvement in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup tie against Chelsea after the winger’s man-of-the-match display in the 2-0 win over Ipswich Town.
Although Ipswich wore blue, the comparison with Chelsea ended there as Warnock’s side gained a timely confidence boost for their midweek Elland Road quarter-final with the European champions.
Mick McCarthy’s men failed to trouble Paddy Kenny until the closing stages, when the veteran Leeds goalkeeper made instinctive saves from Lee Martin and substitute Michael Chopra.
A goal in each half by West Brom loanee Thomas and Paul Green nudged the hosts closer to an npower Championship play-off place, while the Tractor Boys saw their three-match winning run splutter to a halt.
Warnock must now decide whether to play Thomas against Chelsea.
He said: “I am still trying to get Jerome fit enough to play a full 90 minutes. We have to treat him with kid gloves.
“It is more important to me that he plays against Middlesbrough next Saturday than Chelsea on Wednesday, so we will have to see. Knowing Jerome, he will want to play against Chelsea.
“I won’t play my full team and I am sure Chelsea won’t, but they have more players they can rest than we have. I am sure it will be competitive, whatever team I put out.”
McCarthy was left to rue missed opportunities after his team emerged empty-handed.
He said: “We had our chances, even at 2-0, and if we had scored it would have been a nervous end for them. We have made progress as a team and had a really good run, so now we have to start again.
“We gave a bad goal away in the first half when we didn’t defend a corner correctly and then we got done on the break, but it was a fabulous finish by their player.
“We missed our chances and that was the difference. We were on top in the second half, only to let them off the hook, so I am disappointed.”
Leeds chairman Ken Bates warned in his programme notes that there would be no January window spending spree despite the proposed completion of the club’s takeover by Dubai-based Gulf Finance House Capital next week.
Warnock wants another striker but is also keen to extend the stay of his loan players. Fittingly, it was Thomas - on loan from West Brom - who got a goal-line touch on to Tom Lees’ goal-bound header to give Leeds a 19th-minute lead.
Then Thomas provided a precise cross for Green to rifle his second goal in as many games and seal the win in the 69th minute.
Leeds could have been three up at half-time. Former Ipswich midfielder David Norris had a header cleared off the line by Aaron Cresswell before the unmarked Luciano Becchio headed over with the net at his mercy.