Leeds United: Midfielder O’Kane following his ‘manager’s mantra’ to the letter

Eunan O'Kane.
Eunan O'Kane.
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Eunan O’Kane has promised that Leeds United will not be guilty of under-estimating a troubled Birmingham City side tonight, saying: “We haven’t done that with anyone this season.”

Leeds are preparing to face a team whose play-off ambitions have faded dramatically since Birmingham’s board took the decision to sack former manager Gary Rowett and appoint Gianfranco Zola in December.

Gary Rowett.

Gary Rowett.

Rowett lost his job despite City lying seventh in the Championship and two wins in 15 games under Zola, including a first away from home at Wolves last week, have comprehensively ruled them out of the running for a top-six finish.

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Garry Monk.

Garry Monk.

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Leeds, in contrast, are fighting to secure qualification for the play-offs and are fourth in the table ahead of tonight’s trip to St Andrews. United head coach Garry Monk, who has every senior player available after Charlie Taylor’s return from injury, warned on Wednesday about the risk of assuming Birmingham no longer posed a serious threat.

O’Kane revealed that Monk had made that point to Leeds’ squad but said: “One thing I’d give credit to the group for is that we haven’t done that with anyone this season. With teams who are down there, other teams have slipped up against them. I don’t think that’s really happened to us. You could look at one or two results, maybe Cardiff, but Cardiff are on a good run themselves. It’s a case of not under-estimating anyone but at the same time not giving anyone too much respect. It’s served us well so far.

“Last week was Birmingham’s first win (for a while) so I’m sure they’ll be high on confidence. But we’re as confident going into the game as they are.”

O’Kane described Rowett’s dismissal as a “shock managerial change” and said: “When you’re at a club and things are going well and you get a change like that, as a player you’re looking at it thinking ‘what’s going on here? What’s expected of us and are we not good enough? How has this happened?’.

“You just have to pick yourself up and get on with it.”