Leeds United still seeking a solid custodian be it Illan Meslier or Kiko Casilla - David Prutton
ILLAN MESLIER will come into the Leeds United side if Kiko Casilla is handed a ban in his racism case and Meslier should be thinking this is a potential chance to go and show what he can do.
There has been a lot of debate about the goalkeeping position at Leeds, not only this season but last season too.
So if Meslier is handed a chance that would be an opportunity to go and give Leeds what they want - a solid goalkeeper.
It’s great if goalkeepers can play out from the back but Meslier should be looking at this situation as a potential opportunity to go and give Leeds a solid goalkeeper that is part of a solid back line and that doesn’t make mistakes.
Play out as and when you can do it but also maintain the situation and don’t overplay.
Meslier is still only 19 years old and if he is handed a chance he will have to show a sense of calm that belies his youthful years.
But it’s set up perfectly for him if he goes out there.
If he does get a chance then it’s a case of just getting your head down for 13 matches and while it makes it sound very straightforward, two points a game would put Leeds on 85 points.
We all know what happened last season with regards to how many points Leeds got - 83 - but if you then get up towards 90 points then you have got a pretty decent chance of finishing in the top two.
There seems to be a renewed confidence in Leeds’ promotion charge after last weekend’s 1-0 win at home to Bristol City and Fulham’s 3-0 defeat at home to Barnsley.
Who would have thought it would have been a Yorkshire rival down the M1 in Barnsley that Leeds would have been looking at saying ‘thank you for that lads.’
Kalvin Phillips coming back from suspension for Leeds is a big plus because he gives Ben White the familiarity of being ten or 15 yards further back.
But Leeds fans will not be getting carried away with themselves and it is going to be nerve-shreddingly tense between now and the end of the season.
It’s horrible but it’s 13 lots of nail-biting 90 minutes and Leeds have just got to make sure that by hook or by crook, they get the job done.
It would be great if Leeds played their best and swaggered their way to promotion be it in second or maybe even in first if they manage to overtake West Brom.
But they have got to make sure that Nottingham Forest don’t nip in and Fulham and Brentford are also nipping at their heels. Bristol City are there, Preston are there, Millwall are there and Cardiff are there.
You look at the end of the season in September and it seems months away but now we are getting to the mid to end of February and it’s literally three months away.
Kalvin needs to step forwards, Liam Cooper needs to step forwards and Patrick Bamford needs to silence the doubters or just block them out and do what he does for the team and his coach.
Every single member of the team has got to stand up and be counted.
I’m making it sound so very easy but it’s 13 Herculean efforts and as much as they have slipped up and as much as we have pointed the finger and they have had winless runs and all this sort of stuff that you can forget, if things stay as they are and it ends up like this then Leeds are up.
It’s a wonderful time to be alive if you are a Leeds fan.
We have all seen Leeds flying the flag around Europe and winning titles but if they manage to do this it will be monumental in terms of what it has taken to do this and I’ll paraphrase Vinnie Jones who has been there with Howard Wilkinson and knows exactly what it takes.
He sees a bit of life in this team and if he sees it then I am on board with it too.
Today’s Elland Road clash against Reading is next for Leeds and the Royals are 11-1 to leave with a victory. But I don’t think it will be routine for Leeds.
I have seen what Mark Bowen has done with Reading since he has got involved and he has pushed them away from something that was looking a bit sticky at one point.
Reading are going to have inconsistent bouts and periods in games between now and the end of the season but I don’t think for one second it will be walkover for Leeds at all.
If the swagger that we saw in the second half against Millwall is in place then it will be relatively straightforward.
But if it’s the team that toils and dominates possession but does nothing with it and misses lots of chances, it will be a long afternoon.
Wednesday night’s trip to Middlesbrough is then next and Leeds should have enough in the bank to get past them.
But Boro need points for something completely different - to ensure that going into next season there is a lot of positivity.
There’s a group of players there looking to attack the top end of the division rather than just staying safe and there is also the underlying factor of Jonathan Woodgate coming up against his old side.
That’s a nice little dilemma but on their day we have seen that Leeds are as good as if not better than any other team in the division.
They have just got to make sure they prove that in pretty much 95 per cent of their last 13 games - take their chances, don’t have possession for possession’s sake and make sure they maintain focus and concentration until the end.