Pundit's 'unbelievable' Leeds United claim as promotion battle becomes three-horse race

Southampton have fallen out of the automatic promotion hunt, says ex-Leeds United man Carlton Palmer
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The battle for automatic promotion in the Championship is now a three-horse race, believes former Leeds United man Carlton Palmer. The Easter weekend was always going to be pivotal for those teams pushing to reach the Premier League and for Southampton it proved to be detrimental.

Russell Martin's side picked up just one point across the two games, with a draw coming against Middlesbrough on Good Friday before their demoralising last minute defeat to Ipswich Town on Monday evening. As such, they now sit 12 points behind the top two pace and while they do have a couple of games in hand still to play, wins in both would still see them cut adrift, as it stands.

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Southampton boss Russell Martin has the belief that the Saints can keep their automatic promotion hopes alive by winning all eight remaining fixtures, but having seen the club win just three of their last eight in the Championship, Palmer thinks such a feat may well be beyond them.

“They have two games in hand, both on Leeds United and Ipswich Town, and should they win those two games, those six points would still leave them five points adrift of Leicester City and six points adrift of Leeds United," Palmer told Football League World.

“Ipswich Town and Leeds United are setting an unbelievable pace; five wins Ipswich have had in their last six games, one defeat. Four wins for Leeds and two draws have seen Ipswich and Leeds take over the top two places. Leicester City have a game in hand, and should they win that game in hand that would put them on 88 points, and they would top the league.

“But Leicester haven’t been going great of late, three defeats in their last six games and only two wins, so the form teams at the minute are Ipswich and Leeds. I think that late defeat to Ipswich has certainly put Southampton out of the running for the automatic places, in my opinion, and I think they will have to settle for a place in the play-offs and, like I said, whoever settles in the play-offs, whoever goes up, the three best teams in the Championship are Ipswich, Leeds and Leicester.”