'So what?' - Leeds United FA Cup suggestion, fallible rivals and full-back answer: David Prutton

Leeds United are doing exactly what they need to in holding up their end of the bargain in the quest for an automatic promotion place, writes DAVID PRUTTON.
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I am sure that Leeds watched Monday night's game between Leicester City and Ipswich Town hoping very definitely not for an Ipswich win. A Leicester win would have been great for them. Then it really does open up. But second best to that was a draw which is exactly what they got. The permutations and how it moves around means that you have got Southampton chomping at the bit but you've got Leeds chomping at the bit as well and getting through games.

Leeds obviously put Preston to the sword in the very last minute in last Sunday's clash at Elland Road before getting past Norwich with a narrow margin in midweek. Patrick Bamford is scoring the goals that he is scoring with reliability at the moment and there's a lot of things going very, very well.

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This weekend now brings cup competition through Saturday's FA Cup visit of Plymouth Argyle. But if you carry on with that same team or the majority of it and you can maintain momentum then that is good I think in the longer run. What Leeds have done so far this season off the back of those two dodgy results at Christmas has been absolutely what's needed and they've delivered.

RELIABLE: Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford, pictured in Wednesday night's 1-0 victory against Championship visitors Norwich City at Elland Road, in which his only goal of the game took his tally to four in the last five outings. Picture by Tony Johnson.RELIABLE: Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford, pictured in Wednesday night's 1-0 victory against Championship visitors Norwich City at Elland Road, in which his only goal of the game took his tally to four in the last five outings. Picture by Tony Johnson.
RELIABLE: Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford, pictured in Wednesday night's 1-0 victory against Championship visitors Norwich City at Elland Road, in which his only goal of the game took his tally to four in the last five outings. Picture by Tony Johnson.

All things considered, Leeds finishing in the top two is still very much on. It's got to be given the proximity of the teams and the points. Yes, you've got to take into account games that have been played and games in hand. But it's like when Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou was asked about being in the title race and he said look where we are, of course we are.

Even with that second spot, even though there are seven points between second-placed Ipswich and Leicester City, Leicester have shown that they are fallible. Ipswich have shown that they are fallible and Leeds have as well but at the moment that fallibility has been resolutely boxed off so they're absolutely in the chase for second place, definitely.

There is a debate to be had about what Daniel Farke should do with his team for this weekend's cup visit of Plymouth - how many changes he should make and whether he should rest his stars. But if for example you asked Patrick Bamford if he wants a rest I would hopefully think that he would say 'no, I want to play and I want to score.' I definitely think that would be the case and also given the timeframe.

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It would be different if Leeds had a league game next Tuesday evening or something. Then potentially you would have a little think about that. But there's almost a week until the next game at Bristol City on Friday night.

There's no sign really that Leeds are running on empty or that they are running out of steam from what I can see. Yes, there's been two games in quick proximity on Sunday and Wednesday. But so what? It's the Championship and they've spent enough money on the squad for them to be able to cover the bases.

I can see the argument for resting stars to avoid potential injuries. But without sounding too naive about it, that's just a matter of footballing life, I would stick to the bulk of who has been performing because I think the team benefits from that consistency of selection and performance. The run that you need in the Championship is taxing and testing. But I always think that if you can keep that steam stuck together then it bodes well.

Leeds should get through against Plymouth but with someone like Morgan Whitaker, Plymouth have got a very good player indeed, someone who can change the direction of a football match. That's someone that Leeds will have to be very wary of.

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I've never been a manager and never been in that position but given the fact that they are playing Championship opposition, I think approaching it like a Championship game would be the best way for it.

The next step of it is potentially moving forward in the cup. But momentum maintained and performance maintained is possibly more important and minutes in players legs.

We are heading towards where every second and every minute of every game will count. But right now, given the proximity of the games pre and post this one, I think getting the baulk of the lads that have done the majority of the most recent good work together and keeping them together would be part of the manager's thinking but Plymouth will be undoubtedly tough opposition.

What we've seen from them getting back into the Championship after such a long period of time out has been really, really impressive to watch. From a Plymouth point of view, they are a team in pretty decent nick, sat in mid table. Plymouth came up from League One with Ipswich last season but a team's achievements can fade in comparison.

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Ipswich are in second place but they have been absolutely amazing. But you just say congratulations to them and that doesn't mean that Plymouth sat in 15th, after being away from the Championship for such a long period of time isn't a great achievement because it is. They are a stable run football club and they've got a manager in Ian Foster who is really testing himself out there on his own at this level for the first time

As an example of clubs aspiring to get to this level, maintain this level and consolidate this level, they are shining lights so I think there is plenty to be wary of. But given Leeds' aspirations for both the league and the cup, and more importantly their aspirations to maintain form and results, I think it's one of those where they've got to be very much the favourites going into this.

The transfer window closes at 11pm on Thursday evening and the full-back area is the one you look at from a Leeds perspective. Hopefully it's a speedy recovery for Archie Gray following his injury against Norwich.

But there is also Sam Byram, Junior Firpo and Jamie Shackleton as other full-back options. In a minutes on the pitch way, from Sam and Junior's point of view, they will want to repay that kind of time spent off the pitch and pay it back on the pitch.

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It's always good to have a stock of players that you can call on when it comes to those particular situations. But given the fact that we are in January and that hopefully Archie's injury is not a long term knock, between Byram, Shackleton and Firpo you can use it. We have even seen Pascal Struijk there in seasons gone by.

I'm not saying it's make do or mend but you either load up expecting the worst or say that you are okay and I would say that by and large Leeds are in the kind of territory of being okay. It's been a source of debate for quite a while but when you look at the form and the fitness of the players involved then I think they should be alright in that department.

On the flip side, you would expect clubs to come knocking on the door for stars like Crysencio Summerville. But it's been a different window across the board and very quiet. We will soon see whether those outlandish bids at the end of the window will be forthcoming. Attacking players like Summerville will always attract attention Leeds have got to be mindful of that and got to be respectful of that.

But undoubtedly, I'd like to think that Daniel Farke finds himself in a position where he can have the final say. Money talks, of course it does, and every single club barring some of the big boys and even including some of the big boys are 'selling clubs'. If the price is right, then it's something that needs to be addressed - whether it's kind of dismissed out of hand or discussed with the player.

But we're talking hypotheticals here. Let's just hope from Leeds United's point of view that it's going to be a very, very quiet lead up to the clock ticking towards the end of the 1st of February.