FORMER Whites midfielder David Prutton believes Leeds United are well-placed to achieve their promotion goal, saying his former side are in the best shape they have been all season.
United began the new campaign in superb style under new head coach Thomas Christiansen with five victories and two draws putting the Whites top of the Championship after seven games played.
A subsequent run of seven defeats from the club’s next nine league games saw United tumble down the table and out of the play-offs but three wins and a draw from their last five fixtures have put the Whites seventh ahead of Saturday’s clash with 16th-placed Norwich City at Elland Road.
Leeds are just four points behind fifth-placed Aston Villa and sixth-placed Sheffield United and Prutton believes United are well placed to kick on in the weeks ahead.
The 36-year-old Sky Sports pundit also believes Leeds and owner Andrea Radrizzani are now reaping the benefits of sticking with head coach Christiansen during the club’s slump in form.
Prutton reasoned: “I think they have been as good as they have been since across the start of the season and into where we are now.
“They didn’t get too carried away at the start and they didn’t get too down when they were not as good.
“The only defeat in the last five games came at Wolves but Wolves have been battering most teams of late so there is no disgrace in that.
“I think what we have seen has been a character building process where Thomas has probably learnt a lot about the team, the fans have learnt a lot about the team and the fans have learned a lot about Thomas.
“It gives them a great perspective I think for the rest of the season.
“The games come thick and fast over Christmas and you can then redress it in January and have a breather and go again.”
Four of United’s next five league games come against sides in the division’s bottom nine with Saturday’s home clash with Norwich followed by another encounter at Elland Road against 18th-placed Hull City.
Leeds then visit bottom of the division Burton Albion on Boxing Day before travelling to third-bottom Birmingham City four days later.
Nottingham Forest, who sit 11th, then visit Elland Road on New Year’s Day.
Sizing up United’s Festive games, Prutton admitted: “Leeds’ games over Christmas are all good games and they are games that if you were looking at purely on positions and results then you would say a big tick for Leeds for those.
“But there are different dynamics - Burton are fighting for their lives, Birmingham are fighting for the lives and Hull have now got Nigel Adkins in there.
“And Forest on their day can play some lovely football.
“It makes the run tough, very tough but there’s no hiding from it and it’s just the way it is.
“From a fans’ point of view you will be on the edge of your seat but from the management point of view and the players’, they have just got to manage themselves through that. You have just got to get on with it.”