Leeds United rival boss locks team in dressing room for hour-long crisis talks as automatic pressure mounts

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Leeds United’s Championship rivals Leicester City were locked in the away dressing room at Plymouth Argyle following defeat last Friday as Enzo Maresca chaired an impromptu crisis meeting with the Foxes squad.

Leicester fell to defeat against the Pilgrims in Devon, a matter of days on from a similar 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Millwall at The Den.

While Leeds and Ipswich Town failed to capitalise, both dropping points at the weekend, Leicester boss Maresca has witnessed his side lose six of the last ten league games, after winning 25 of their opening 32 this season.

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According to The Athletic, Maresca held an hour-long meeting with his players inside the dressing room at Home Park on Friday evening in a bid to rally his troops and salvage the team’s campaign, which until recently appeared destined for automatic promotion and an immediate Premier League return, both of which are now in jeopardy.

The Foxes’ schedule does not get any easier, nor from a competition or fatigue perspective. They next face West Bromwich Albion and Southampton, both of whom occupy places in the play-offs, before games against Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers to finish the season. Maresca complained of the fixture list ahead of Leicester’s 1-0 defeat on Friday, suggesting there was little regard for his players’ welfare after being made to play back-to-back away games versus Millwall and Plymouth in the space of three days.

“We are the only team who played Tuesday night and now Friday and at this moment, with our competitors, we are the only ones that played two games away.

“I don't think people care too much about players’ health because otherwise you cannot understand this kind of a decision.

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"We played Tuesday night and arrived back at 3am. Today [Thursday] we need to travel. We have a five hour trip back from Plymouth, but the organisation decide that,” the Italian told reporters.

Crisis talks and team meetings at this stage of the season are far from out of the ordinary; Daniel Farke is understood to have held a summit with his players the day after Leeds’ defeat by Coventry City. While the intention will have been to rally his side before one final push, the outcome proved somewhat different as the team subsequently drew with Sunderland then lost their unbeaten home record against Blackburn in the next two games.

Leicester still have the advantage of one more fixture to play than promotion rivals Leeds and Ipswich, but on recent form and their opponent happening to be Southampton who are still in with an outside chance of automatic promotion, there is no guarantee the Foxes will make the most of their additional fixture.

As it stands heading into this weekend’s round of games, Ipswich sit top of the table on 89 points, with Leicester on 88 in second place and Leeds third with 87 points to their name. Southampton, meanwhile, secured a 99th minute winner against Watford over the weekend, and have 81 points with five matches remaining.

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