PABLO HERNANDEZ insisted that Leeds United’s April nightmare at Burton Albion was firmly in the past as the Spaniard backed the Whites to mark a more positive new chapter with a Boxing Day win at the Pirelli Stadium.
United saw their hopes of finishing in last season’s play-offs taken out of their own hands after a crushing 2-1 loss at Burton last April, after which Hernandez was among those visibly dejected at full-time.
But the Spanish playmaker insisted that Leeds had now forgotten about last Spring’s damaging loss in Staffordshire and were focussing on seeking a fourth win in succession.
The recalled Hernandez scored the only goal of the game during Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Hull City which took the Whites back into the play-off positions following a return of 13 points from the last five games.
Leaders Wolves are the only team to have beaten United in their last six, giving Hernandez confidence ahead of back-to- back away games with today’s clash at Burton followed by a trip to bottom of the Championship Birmingham City four days later.
“We know it’s a difficult game,” said Hernandez, casting attention to the trip to Burton Albion.
That’s a motivation for us because in the last year when you see the table when the season has finished, in the second round there are not many changes – only one or two teams.Pablo Hernandez
“Last year we do not have good memories but we forget last year.
“It is very important now to win some points because now in this period, the Christmas period, there are a lot of games.
“If you win two or three in a row I think you can open a little gap between yourselves and the other teams.
“I think that after Saturday’s win, the team have good confidence and a good feeling.
“We know they are difficult games but I think if the team has the same spirit as we showed on Saturday and we play like we have in the last few games then we have a good chance to win these two games.”
Hernandez was back at his favoured number 10 position for Saturday’s clash with Hull after Samu Saiz was ruled out of the contest with a calf injury.
With Saiz previously excelling in the number 10 role, Hernandez had been operating as a winger though the Spaniard returned from a hamstring injury to sit on the bench for the previous weekend’s 1-0 win at home to Norwich City as Thomas Christiansen opted to instead start Pawel Cibicki on the right wing, with Gjanni Alioski on the other flank.
Saiz is set to return to the Whites side for the Boxing Day trip to Burton with Leeds now back in the top six after Hernandez’s brilliance against Hull.
“I think that’s important,” said Hernandez, reflecting on the fact that Leeds were now back in the top six.
“We knew before the game that if we win this game then we finish the first round of games in the play-off positions.
“That’s a motivation for us because in the last year when you see the table when the season has finished, in the second round there are not many changes – only one or two teams.
“I think it is very important to finish the first round in the play-offs positions.”
Saturday’s win saw Leeds cut the gap to second-placed Cardiff down to eight points but Hernandez is determined to keep a level head on United’s ambitions.“Obviously it’s better,” said Hernandez.
“But I think the most important thing now is to go step by step because we have a big gap, eight points, and we have two or three teams between us and the top two.
“More important now is only focusing on the next games.”