Neil Redfearn wants Leeds United to give Middlesbrough title fever as his players look to smash odds of 6/1 against them at The Riverside.
Redfearn feels the pressure of Boro’s promotion fight could work in Leeds’ favour tomorrow with Aitor Karanka’s side attempting to defend a small advantage at the top of the Championship.
Boro moved a point clear of Bournemouth and Derby County after recovering from the dismissal of goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos to earn a draw at Birmingham City on Wednesday night.
Konstantopoulos’ suspension will see Tomas Mejias start in goal tomorrow – the keeper whose 88th-minute fumble allowed Leeds striker Billy Sharp to settle the last game between the clubs at Elland Road in August – and the fixture is Boro’s third in seven days.
Leeds, who are 15 points off the play-offs and eight above the relegation places, are in their strongest spell of form this season after four wins from five games and Redfearn said his team would look to create a close and anxious contest at The Riverside.
“Every game’s important to them now,” said United’s head coach. “They know they can’t slip up because people underneath them are putting runs together.
“There’s pressure that comes with being at the top and that’s there on them so the more the game goes on, the more it’s tight with nothing in it, the more the pressure will build. We’ll be mindful of that. We’ve on a good run and our away form has definitely improved. They are a good side but if we stay in the game and there’s nothing in it...”
Karanka beat Redfearn to the manager-of-the-month award for January and the Spaniard has been a highly successful appointment as Boro boss.
His squad have lost only five league games this season, two at home, and they are 22 points better off than United, leaving Leeds as 6/1 shots tomorrow.
Redfearn said: “They carry the weight of expectation quite well because they’re a big club at this level.
“Karanka’s put a good squad together, he understands the division now and he’s had a couple of season to build. He’s made a side who are capable of going on and playing at a higher level but if we perform like we can perform then we’ll get a result.”