Noel Whelan: The EFL Cup could take Leeds United to Wembley

Chris Wood celebrates his penalty goal which put Leeds United in front at Cardiff City. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Chris Wood celebrates his penalty goal which put Leeds United in front at Cardiff City. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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NOEL Whelan believes Leeds United should be genuinely excited by tonight’s EFL Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers - declaring that the competition could take the Whites to Wembley and even Europe in 2017.

Leeds and Blackburn will meet for the second time in just over a week at Elland Road this evening, seven nights after Kyle Bartley’s late header gave United a 2-1 victory in the league.

That success lifted Leeds out of the Championship relegation zone and ultimately provided the platform for the Whites to net back to wins at Cardiff City on Saturday.

Now a place in the EFL Cup last 16 is the prize on offer this evening, and former Whites striker Whelan believes there are plenty of reasons to be very excited about the implications of what the game may hold.

Sixteen Premier League teams remain in the competition - including all of the big guns - meaning there would be a strong possibility of United landing a glamour tie in Wednesday night’s fourth round draw.

Moreover, Whelan is also keen to stress that tonight’s victors will be only three more wins from a final held at Wembley - in a competition which offers one place in next season’s Europa League.

Whelan reasoned: “I think it’s an important game because I think you want to keep this winning run going, whatever games it is.

“It’s a cup game and you are getting to the business stage of the cup competition now once you get past Blackburn.

“What would we like? We’d like a big team at Elland Road or we’d like to go to a Premiership ground and have one of the big boys and see how we fare against them.

“But when you get that close and you get past Blackburn you can think ‘do you know what, we are only two or three games off the final here and going to Wembley.’

“That should be something that excites the players and the club - that it could be a special season and it could be a day out. You just never know in cup competitions - you might end up in Europe.”

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