Club Focus – Leeds United – Back on track in League One as McSheffrey and Lowry join the bandwagon

The Whites have finally succeeded in registering a victory in League One action in 2010 courtesy of Jermaine Beckford’s brace against Colchester United. The double striker took the prolific striker’s season tally to an impressive 24 goals showing once again why Manager Simon Grayson was adamant about keeping Beckford for the remainder of the season. The Elland Road crowd witnessed the debuts of loan signings Gary McSheffrey and Shane Lowry who will add depth to the squad and give Grayson more cover in certain positions.

This was a much needed win as it kept the Whites within touching distance of division leaders Norwich City who are grinding results in a consistent manners. Leeds remain three points behind albeit with two matches in hand but Grayson acknowledges all points are critical from now on in the race to win the division and gain promotion the Championship. The Manager certainly does not want to get involved in the dreaded play-offs scenario which has seen Leeds suffer time and again in recent years. Outright promotion has been the club’s defined objective and despite the eye-catching run in the FA Cup, the management and coaching staff have stressed the priority given to the League One campaign.

Beating visitors Colchester eased the pressure on Grayson and the players yet he must still be concerned about Beckford’s partner as Luciano Becchio has really struggled for form. The Whites have created an 11 point gap over the losing side (Fourth place in the standings) but Grayson must be concerned at the lack of goals aside from those scored by Beckford. The top scorer has scored all three goals against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur while the other strikers have not found the back of the net in 2010. The Whites have been linked with a move for Blackburn Rovers striker Jason Roberts as Grayson looks to reinforce the attacking department. Roberts would sign on loan for the remainder of the season with Leeds paying the bulk of his hefty salary but it remains to be seen whether Rovers will let go of him as they might be short on strikers. The shocking report comes after Leeds recently had a bid for striker Lee Barnard accepted by Southend United only for the player to prefer Southampton.

With the much-anticipated FA Cup clash against the Spurs set for tomorrow Wednesday, the Leeds United supporters will be hoping for another surprise result. The fans might not get to see former Leeds striker Robbie Keane who is reportedly going to sign for Scottish giants Celtics. The main threat for Leeds will come from striking duo Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. It would not be surprising if Grayson started with Lubomir Michalik against the Spurs given his height and ability to match Crouch’s aerial threat. The Slovakian international stands at 6’4” and was inserted in the lineup against Colchester perhaps in a preemptive move to get him into playing shape as Patrick Kisnorbo and skipper Richard Naylor have started when fit. The Australian defender Kisnorbo will need to prove his fitness in order to feature against Tottenham. He has been one of the club’s most committed players often sacrificing his body for the Leeds cause.

Manager Grayson will hope to recover the injured Neil Kilkenny and the sick Andrew Hughes considering Max Gradel and loan signings Lowry and McSheffrey are ineligible for the cup tie. In response to the critics who have considered the FA Cup as a distraction, Grayson firmly declared he believes in his players and the erratic run in League One was bound to end sooner or later as a result of the squad’s belief and desire to fight for the division title. Grayson stressed he will field the best side available with the hope of testing Tottenham and perhaps springing an upset to continue the fairytale run in the FA Cup. Grayson will be counting on a full-house at Elland Road and striker Beckford’s goal heroics against Premiership sides this season.

Grayson made it clear his focus is on the weekend’s trip to Hartlepool but he will be looking for a result against Spurs in order to deliver another massive boost to the team’s morale. While the Manager will contemplate the starting lineup for tomorrow’s clash with Tottenham, he will make sure new signings Gradel, Lowry and McSheffrey are working diligently to be prepared for the League One match against Hartlepool. The Whites have not brought in another efficient goal scorer but by successfully retaining Beckford they have sealed their best move in the January market.

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