Leeds United v Blackburn Rovers: Daniel Farke press conference every word on Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Southampton, Dallas tribute and 'gut feeling'

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Leeds United make a quick return to Elland Road tomorrow for the lunchtime visit of Blackburn Rovers, ahead of which Whites boss Daniel Farke spoke to the press on Friday afternoon.

Farke’s promotion-chasing side were held to a goalless draw by Tuesday night’s visitors Sunderland, a result which kept United’s automatic promotion destiny out of their own hands with just four games left. Leeds, though, then received a big boost the following night as Ipswich Town blew a chance to kick three points clear of the third-placed Whites as they too were held to a goalless draw at home to Watford.

Leeds are consequently now just one point behind both second-placed Ipswich and leaders Leicester City – the latter of whom have played one game less and visit Plymouth Argyle tonight. Leeds will then take on relegation-battling Blackburn at LS11 in a 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday lunchtime, ahead of which Farke is holding his pre-match press conference today.

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Farke will be facing the press at 1.30pm at Thorp Arch and here is every word from United’s manager. Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton are the current Whites injuries, Struijk out for the season following surgery on his groin injury which has kept him out since Boxing Day. Shackleton was expected to be looking at around two weeks out with adductor strain. Willy Gnonto, Connor Roberts and Ilia Gruev have all returned from recent injuries whilst today’s press conference will be the first time Farke has spoken to the media following the announcement that Stuart Dallas will retire at the end of the season upon being unable to recover from a femoral fracture.

Leeds United v Blackburn Rovers: Daniel Farke press conference every word

For Daniel Farke’s pre-Blackburn presser today. All the news to follow here.

For Daniel Farke’s press conference at Thorp Arch. Plenty to cover again, the automatic promotion picture, Ipswich only drawing, Blackburn getting walloped 5-0, any temptation to make changes, injuries, possibly the club’s accounts - and of course Stuart Dallas.

Daniel Farke takes his seat.

Before we start, perhaps I can possibly, before we speak about football, and we all know how important football is and sometimes it seems to be the most important topic in the world but if I'm really honest, more important is also the human being. Obviously we had more or less like a shock news during this week with retirement and the announcement of Stuart Dallas and I want to take also the opportunity to pay tribute, and also to say thanks a lot for everything to Stuart in the name of our group. Because, sometimes a human being who was not playing each and every game, is not that much in the spotlight, but he was pretty much in the spotlight in our group. He’s a pretty integral and key part of our group and obviously, it was also quite emotional for all of us in the last days or so to learn, to know that he has made the decision. Obviously, you could sense it a bit in the in the last weeks when there were a few setbacks in his rehab way and also with his body but once the decision is finally there, and he announces this, it was quite emotional also for us because we don't lose just a great player but also an unbelievable human being and I have to say I'm a bit sad that I was never allowed to send Stuart on the pitch as a manager, as my player, because once I signed a contract here, it was also one of the things I was really looking forward to. Also to work for example with Stuart because I knew what a fantastic player he was. It was always difficult also to prepare my former teams, yeah, also against a side with Stuart Dallas because I think he was a fantastic, fantastic player. I was always respectful when I had to play against him, and would have loved to send him out also in our shirt and as his manager but I also have to say that feel really blessed and I'm really grateful that I'm at least allowed to call myself to be one of the managers of Stuart because obviously he was definitely also my player and will also in my mind and my heart always be my player. And I also learnt more about him as a human being. I have to say he was an unbelievably fantastic player but he was and is even a better human being and is unbelievable. Yeah, how he acts and interacts with the guys, and he's still so important also for our spirit and for our group. I'm working here for this club more or less since nine and a half months and he's doing this more or less same amount but of years and what he has done for this club is so much more than what I have done for example in nine and a half months. So he's a real legend of this club and he's a real deal and I have to say so he deserves all the praise and all the spotlights, not just for the way he played and what he has done for this club during difficult times, during good times, he has led with this quality but also was his personality this club to the highest highs with promotion and also the fantastic first season back in the Premier League, but he was also there when the going gets tough and he was always there with highest identification for this club and even right now he's there for the boys and gives hints and recommendations and it says a lot about his character once he came to the group in order to speak about, yeah, more or less his decision, that the main topic was not just to speak about him as a person, he spoke about our plans, what our motivation was in the beginning of the season, that his fingers are crossed also that we achieve what we want to achieve. So even right now he's thinking more about the group and more about the club than about himself and this says more or less everything about him as a person and I really want to say a big thank you and I really feel blessed that I was allowed to work for at least and this year together with him. Our doors, arms and hearts will always be open for him because he is really a true Leeds United legend and yeah, we are blessed that we still have him for a few weeks and the doors will always be open. He is there and influences and gives us spirit also and especially to the young players and just from my side, and also in the name of all of our staff and the whole team, a big thank you for him and let's enjoy the next weeks or so, we're still having him on side and together with him. Thank you.”

How important to have Dallas now around?

“Obviously I would prefer to have him available for the games, but to have his experience and personality, he's always there before and after the game, calms the nerves and motivates if necessary. We have a young group, we finished the last game with Cree Summerville 22, Mateo Joseph 20, Willy Gnonto just 20, Georginio Rutter in his early 20s, 21 I think, Archie Gray, Illian Meslier. To have a proper Leeds legend who went through the ups and downs, involved in a promotion battle, successfully involved, it's important to have these guys around. You need the energy and enthusiasm of the youth and experience of the more experienced players. Sadly it's not a guarantee we will succeed but it's good to have him around.”

Leeds unfortunately dropped points against Sunderland, but equally Ipswich and Leicester also dropped points this week. Is that a coincidence? Or is it symptomatic that the pressure is mounting?

"First or all, my attitude is that you can't drop points, you just can win points. All the times when you drop points is over. There are no minus points anymore. And for that we gained one point. Obviously we would have preferred to make a big step with three points but you always have to be respectful and if you can't win the game then you have to make sure that you're there with the second best result and you win then one point. Obviously this game brought us one point closer to the top of the league, made sure that with this important points that are still within one point of Ipswich, also protected a bit our advantage in comparison to Southampton and even at this stage of the season it is so difficult always to deliver always win after win after win because also the quality of other opponents are not bad. You obviously have to respect that sometimes a team plays without pressure or freedom or the other way around. When you face the side was fighting against relegation they fight with a knife between teeth, especially at the end of the season, it's always difficult and perhaps even a bit more difficult than on gameday 30 to gain three points and for that you always have to be respectful and to make sure that you don't underestimate also, sometimes one point. Obviously we wanted also to win the last game and then the first overriding feeling was also a bit disappointment but like I mentioned straightaway after the game, it was also important not to lose the nerves, not to lose this game with being and conceding a counter attack. It was important to return back to having a clean sheet, it was the first after three games we have conceded and this was also crucial and for that, I wouldn't underestimate this one point. Obviously we head into each and every game in order to win it, this is our DNA. This is how I want my teams to play and I think also you could sense it. But when you have a day when you are struggling perhaps even a bit in order to create many clear cut chances and then you have also a day when there are obviously many key decisions and also obvious decisions go against you, sometimes you have to take a point and for that it was important point and we are looking forward to have the next chance to win one or even better three points then tomorrow." 

Leicester play tonight at Plymouth - will you be watching it?

"I'm not sure, perhaps part of the second half. It's not that important because we've played already two times against both teams, against Plymouth even a bit more often due to cup competition but we don't face them so for that it's not necessary to analyze them even a bit more and obviously also I can't influence what happens on the pitch. It will be quite a long day today at Thorp Arch because we go out for training, we have to prepare a lot also for tomorrow. I am not sure if I will make it for the kick-off time home on the sofa in front of the TV, perhaps for the last last minutes yes. And perhaps if I don't follow them, what else is on the programme? Perhaps Augusta, anyhow, The Masters, Tiger Woods looking in good shape. Then probably I will have a look at the Leicester game but I can't influence it that much and for that I'm not over excited today." 

Do you expect the players to watch Leicester tonight?

"They will definitely return home a bit earlier than me because obviously the best time when to work in football is always the time when you play when you just come in, you have to make sure that you are there with proper training and then the proper nutrition at home so coaching staff or staff around they have to work. The players are leading a privileged life and they will definitely make it obviously in time but I'm also not too bothered if they concentrate just on our game tomorrow or they watch a bit of football. So there is no recommendation from my side. They're all mature and they can do whatever they want but what I can guarantee is that none of our players will be over excited because you can't influence other results. We are all pretty much focused in order that we are then really switched on for tomorrow because we need to be at our best in order to give ourselves a chance to win three points and this is all that matters." 

What do you expect from Blackburn?

"Well, it's difficult to predict because each and every game is different and also in this league you can't compare anything so I'm pretty respectful of the quality and offence. If you're not switched on against them they can hurt each and every opponent because they have so many players who can make things happen and obviously a player in red hot form in Sammie Szmodics during the season with so many goals and also a handful of assists. They are very, very dangerous. They have shown just a couple of weeks ago what they're capable to do, they were able to score five goals  against Sunderland and cut them a bit into pieces. Obviously then the other night was definitely also a disappointing result for them but it just makes sure that they will be perhaps even a bit more motivated to show a reaction and they also need probably a few points in order to be not really completely in danger. So for that, I expect also a highly motivated team who wants to show a reaction at a ground where, let's be honest, they have nothing to lose. Because of the last result, no one really expects then really that suddenly they will take Elland Road by storm and for that, yes, we are respectful and we know that we have to control them so if you allow them to develop their game they are a really really dangerous side because they play a bit freestyle, they play instinctively, they have many, many good football players and we have to make sure that we don't allow them to be themselves on the pitch and that we dominate the game. And this is the task for tomorrow."

“All the players who came through the last game all are available. For Ethan it was quite important to recover a little bit so at the moment everyone is in a good shape. Also it was important to have a few more days for Willy Gnonto and also Connor Roberts to prepare after their muscle injuries, they also came through the last game without any problems. For that, I think we are in a much better position than we were perhaps ten days ago."

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