Micah Richards and Alan Shearer disagree as pundits make Leeds United promotion predictions

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Leeds United are third in the Championship as they approach the final weekend of the regular season

Micah Richards believes his hometown team Leeds United will be playing Premier League football next season but they'll need to get through a play-off campaign first. The Whites haven't given up hope of winning automatic promotion from the Championship just yet, but it's fair to say the odds are firmly stacked against them.

They currently sit three points behind Ipswich Town in the table and that means they need to not only beat Southampton at Elland Road on Saturday but also hope Ipswich fall to a shock defeat against the all but relegated Huddersfield Town at Portman Road.

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Stranger things have happened and that's something Leeds fans may well be telling themselves going into the final fixture of the regular campaign, but right now it seems likely that the Whites may find themselves entering into a do or die play-off competition. The lottery of the play-offs is something Leeds have been working hard to avoid this season and given the club's previous record, supporters might not be overly enthused by the prospect.

Richards, though, is full of optimism and while he does believe automatic promotion could be beyond them, he is tipping the Whites to have a successful day out at Wembley Stadium on May 26.

“I’m going to go Leeds in the play-offs," Richards said on The Rest Is Football podcast, which is hosted by Leicester City fan Gary Lineker. "They’re going to bring an army down in the play-offs. Ipswich go automatic, I’m going to say Leeds in the play-offs.”

Richards' colleague and fellow podcaster Alan Shearer expects to see the play-offs pan out very differently, though. Shearer started his senior career with Southampton back in 1988 and he thinks his former club might just have enough left in the tank to find the form they need this month.

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“Southampton for the play-offs. I’ve got to, they’re my old club," the former England striker added.

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Southampton are currently fourth in the Championship and whatever the result on Saturday at Elland Road, that is where they will remain with three straight defeats last month bringing an end to their hopes of winning automatic promotion. Russell Martin's side have little to play for then this weekend, but ahead of a potential clash with Leeds at the national stadium in the play-off final, they'll be looking to assert their dominance and gain the psychological upper hand.

Leeds have competed in the play-offs on five previous occasions, with their last taste in 2018-19 being bitter to say the very least. The Whites lost to Frank Lampard's Derby County on that occasion, with the Rams progressing to the final with a 4-2 win at Elland Road which resulted in a 4-3 aggregate win.

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Before then there were failed attempts at promotion from League One in both 2007-08 and 2008-09, with the Whites losing to Doncaster Rovers at Wembley and coming up short against Millwall. It was Wembley heartbreak in 2006 too, as Leeds lost 3-0 to Watford in the Championship. Leeds also missed out on promotion in 1986-87 as they were beaten by Charlton Athletic in the Second Division final.