GARRY MONK says Leeds United are determined to capitalise on their “opportunity” for a promotion push.
Leeds visit the Championship’s bottom club, Rotherham United, for a televised 5.30pm kick-off this evening looking to bounce back from Sunday’s 2-0 loss at home to leaders Newcastle United.
Leeds still head to the New York Stadium just one point off the play-offs in seventh after picking up 22 points from 33 since the 1-0 loss at home to Huddersfield Town on September 10.
Victory at Rotherham could put Leeds back into the division’s top six and head coach Monk is determined to build on United’s impressive start.
“What these players have given themselves and it’s the only thing they have given themselves right now is an opportunity to do well,” said Monk. “It’s sensing that and grabbing hold of it and not letting it go easily that’s our job and our focus.
“We all want to to be successful and we have talked about this club and its ambition and we want to all do it as quickly as possible.
“But when you get an opportunity like where we are right now, then you have to try and make the best of it and that’s what we are doing.
“We do that by focusing on each and every game – taking it game by game and step by step and I am sure towards the end of the season we will see exactly what we are fighting for.
“Right now, our only concern is the three points on Saturday and doing all we can to try and get them.”
Leeds will be without commanding centre-half Pontus Jansson who serves a one-match ban for picking up five yellow cards before the end of November cut-off date. Liam Cooper will take Jansson’s place.
Playmaker Pablo Hernandez will also be out for a further two or three weeks with a hamstring injury while captain Liam Bridcutt is still on the comeback trail after fracturing a bone in his foot.
Leeds are around even money favourites to win at Rorherham - who are eight points adrift at the foot of the Championship having lost nine of their last ten games.
The Millers have only savoured one league win so far this term - at home to Brentford in August.
But former Watford, Swansea City, Millwall and Wolves boss Kenny Jackett was brought in to the club in October in a bid to revive the South Yorkshire side’s fortunes and Monk insists that Jackett will soon get it right.
“I’ve a massive respect for Kenny,” said Monk.
“I know him very well.
“He brought me in at Swansea and did a fantastic job there. He was the one that really set us off on that winning mentality that we created at that club.
“He is massively experienced, they will be very organised and they will be determined. We have to be ready for this.
“You can talk about favourites and stuff like that but we don’t look it like that. We look at it that we need to perform and we need to ready for what they are going to offer and we need to combat that and try and put our game on the pitch.
“If we can do that to the levels we have been reaching recently then we know that we can be in with a chance of fighting for a good result.”
The Millers are as short as 1-40 to be relegated, but Monk added: “Kenny is very experienced at this level and I am sure he will go in there and do a fantastic job.
“You can see already that he is having an effect.
“Okay, results wise they haven’t been where they want to be but in terms of me analysing them and looking at them you can see how organised they are and you can see that he has brought an idea to them.
“Obviously it takes a little bit of time to implement them fully but Kenny is a fantastic manager, very experienced, and I am sure that he will put them in the right way. Just hopefully after this weekend.”