Simon Grayson will look for Leeds United to keep a foot in the door of automatic promotion after predicting that places in the Championship’s top two will remain at stake until the final weeks of the season.
Grayson denied that tomorrow’s result against Swansea City could by a decisive factor in the fight for second position but he called on his players to move “back in amongst the pack” following expensive draws against Norwich City and Barnsley.
Leeds slipped five points adrift of Swansea on Tuesday evening, heightening the pressure on their game at the Liberty Stadium, and United will find themselves eight points adrift by full-time if City inflict their second defeat in 21 league matches.
Grayson admitted to feeling aggrieved over a haul of two points from back-to-back home fixtures against Norwich and Barnsley but he spoke of “twists and turns” ahead and said he was not yet able to predict how many points would be needed to guarantee the club second place or ensure their involvement in the play-offs.
“I haven’t got a clue about that,” Grayson said. “Some people will look at how many points you might need but I never bother. I don’t want us thinking we need X-amount and I don’t think you can be certain in this division.
“I used the phrase ‘lots of twists and turns left’ many times last season and it’s going to be tight again. Anyone who says the top two or the top six are going to be done and dusted in the next month is wrong. It’ll go right down to the last few weeks of the season. There’s no danger of anything else happening and I still feel we can get any position in the league.
“Swansea’s a big game against a good team. We can only take three points from it but it’s a game I’d like us to win to get back in amongst the pack and put pressure on the top two. We know what’s at stake.”
United inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Swansea in the early weeks of the season, recovering from a goal down to win a tight game at Elland Road, but City have been a consistent part of the Championship’s top six. Leeds winger Sanchez Watt, who played in the first meeting between the sides, said: “It’s a big, big game – I think one of the deciding games of the season.
“We beat them early on and it was a great win. If we do that away from home, it’ll give us confidence to finish off the season.”
Three successive wins moved Swansea into second position on Tuesday evening and took advantage of Leeds’ 3-3 draw with Barnsley, a game in which United were forced to complete the last 38 minutes with 10 men.
Grayson said: “It’s frustrating because, when I look on the performances against Norwich and Barnsley, we probably deserved six points out of six.
“But we had 10 men for half an hour against Barnsley and we should still have won.
“The players are frustrated with themselves and they’re frustrated with the sloppy goals they gave away but that shouldn’t detract from the way they performed.”