NEIL REDFEARN has hailed Leeds United’s FA Cup draw at Premier League outfit Sunderland as a ‘great tie’ and believes it will represent a good barometer of the progress of his young side.
The tie at the Stadium of Light, made in last night’s televised third-round draw in Hull, evokes memories of the most famous cup meeting between the sides in the final of 1973 when Bob Stokoe’s Wearsiders produced one of the biggest shocks of all time by defeating Don Revie’s cup holders, thanks to an Ian Porterfield strike.
Over four decades on, it will be Leeds cast in the role of underdogs, but Redfearn says the tie is one to relish for his charges.
On the tie, which will be played on the first weekend of January, Redfearn said: “It is a great tie. Playing a Premier League club is a good draw for us and it will give our young side, with a lot of talent, the chance to pit their wits against a top-flight side, which is great.
“A lot of these young players here are going to play at a higher stage, so it will be a good test for them and one they will relish.
“That ’73 final is still there in a lot of Leeds fans’ memories. I remember watching it, but only bits of it and it was a famous final. It would be nice to go up there and put on a performance and get a win as they are obviously a big club who did well to stay in the Premier League last season.
“We have an up-and-coming side who play good football and it will be a good game for us.
“The cup is a nice distraction and obviously a great game for us in terms of seeing how far we have come.”
Redfearn admits that his ideal scenario would have been seeing his side handed a home tie with the draw meaning that Leeds will face three away games in four matches encompassing the festive and New Year period, starting off with the televised trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday week. But with Leeds likely to be backed by a large travelling army up the A1 at the Stadium of Light against the Black Cats, whose ex-Leeds contingent includes former Whites assistant-manager Gus Poyet and former goalkeeping coach Andy Beasley, Redfearn believes the tie has a certain ring to it.
He added: “It would have been nice to be drawn at home where we get big gates.
“But I would have thought we will take a large following to Sunderland and it is just up the road for us in terms of travelling.
“We take large support wherever we go, which is great and as soon as the draw came out, I thought it was a great draw.
“Obviously, Gus is there and did well when he was at Leeds and it will be good to see him and Andy Beasley, who used to be the goalkeeping coach at Leeds.
“But for me, it’s about how we perform pitting our wits against a Premier League club.
“We are right at the beginning of what we are trying to do with a lot of young players and signings who have come in to make up the side.
“We are finding our feet in terms of building a team, which can compete and hopefully get promoted in the future.”