Steve Evans denied that Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Bolton was the biggest game facing Leeds United this week as he called on his players to keep the Championship “honest” with a victory away at Brentford.
Evans said an extended run in the FA Cup was “a major target for us” after Leeds’ play-off bid faded but he insisted his side had a duty to improve their league position, despite their slim chance of promotion.
United ended a run of five league games without a win by forcing a 1-0 victory over Bristol City at on Saturday but Evans’ squad looked destined for mid-table and lie 11 points between both the Championship’s play-off zone and its relegation places.
Leeds travel to Griffin Park tonight for a league fixture which was brought forward after a 2-0 win over Rotherham United carried the club through the third round of the FA Cup.
United will visit Bolton in round four this weekend after the financially-stricken Championship side survived a replay against non-league Eastleigh, and Wanderers have handed Leeds an allocation of 6,800 tickets, the largest ever given to an away side at the Reebok Stadium.
Evans said: “Getting to the fifth round is a major target for us. I’d like us to have a good run in the cup, I’d like to do something special in it and I think a cup run lifts the whole place – the city and the club.
“But it’s not a case of Bolton being the important game for us. Brentford’s important too. Win at Brentford and we get back towards the top half of the table. We take care of ourselves, we go back to within eight points of the play-offs and then it’s down to other clubs to do their jobs while we enjoy the FA Cup on Saturday. If they don’t do their jobs then perhaps that opens things up for a few twists and turns.
“I know where we are in the league but I want us to keep it honest. Every game for us is part of the building process, a chance for me to think about the
direction we’re going in, who’s going to be involved going forward and who maybe won’t be. I don’t want anyone thinking we’ll only be turning up in the cup.”
Liam Bridcutt, United’s on-loan Sunderland midfielder, admitted over the weekend that he was looking to make progress in the FA Cup - and said Bolton’s third-round win over Eastleigh had spared Leeds from a “lose-lose” clash with non-league opposition.
United suffered a humiliating defeat to non-league Histon in 2008, crashing out in the second round after losing 1-0 on a dire pitch.
Bridcutt, who was at Sunderland when the Wearside club reached the final of the League Cup in 2014, said: “Bolton will be tough but if we perform and put our chances away we can go further in the competition.
“Eastleigh is the sort of game where people know there can be upsets. It’s a lose-lose situation for us. If you go there and get beat you’ll get slaughtered. But if you win, it was expected. That can be difficult.
“A cup run can change a season, definitely. I witnessed that at Sunderland. When I first came in we were close to relegation but we had some great performances in the cup. It gave us the extra boost to go and do well in the rest of the season.”
Evans said: “The players won’t be looking beyond Brentford. We can jump a few places in the league (tonight) and that’s the priority.”