Elland Road will serve as the theatre for one of Leeds United’s most important matches this season with the players acknowledging three more wins will secure automatic promotion regardless of the results obtained by the pursuing pack. Simon Grayson can field a full-strength team except for long-term absentee Paddy Kisnorbo but the greater concern surrounds the fitness of in-form striker Luciano Becchio. The player has had an interrupted season marred by injury problems which have affected the Whites, considering top-scorer Jermaine Beckford was left to shoulder the load in the Argentine’s absence. Leeds cannot afford losing Becchio for an extended period with only three remaining fixtures and the striker forming an effective partnership with Max Gradel.
If Becchio does miss the clash against MK Dons then Grayson will have to start Jermaine Beckford who has been confined to the bench in the last couple of games. It will be interesting to see how the Leeds faithful will greet Beckford considering he is out of favour at Elland Road following his lack of goals in recent weeks, except for the penalty converted against Gillingham. Ironically fate might throw Beckford in the midst of the promotion chase and offer him a chance at redemption and earning back the support of the Leeds fans. Beckford will most definitely leave on a free transfer this summer ending a tumultuous yet successful spell on the personal level having ended last season as the club’s top scorer and repeating this feat again this campaign.
The Whites are already monitoring alternatives for their attack and the Manager admitted Leeds have been following diligently the performances of striker Davide Somma who is on loan with Lincoln City. Leeds have loaned Somma in order to gain vital playing time and the striker has responded by being a productive member of the Lincoln first-team scoring an impressive 7 goals in 11 appearances. While Somma might not be the answer to the problems upfront, his monitoring is another sign of how desperate Leeds are to replace the outgoing Beckford. The Whites have sought other options with the latest reports mentioning Gary Hooper who plays for Scunthorpe United with a move to Elland Road. The 22-year-old has a remarkable ratio of scoring just over a goal in every two games played which clearly makes him a desirable commodity with the likes of Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Ipswich Town and Bolton Wanderers. Considering some of the clubs are in the Premiership it will be hard to see Leeds being able to lure Hooper to join them unless they gain promotion.
While the striker search gathers momentum, Australian defender Kisnorbo is still coping with the fact he will have to miss the World Cup in South Africa due to injury. The bad news for Leeds is his recovery period will not be a short one with the defender setting October as his likely return date which implies he will miss several of Leeds’s early season matches. In his absence the defensive line has appeared rather weak and Grayson has failed to plug in the gap left by the charismatic and passionate Aussie with the side leaking three goals last weekend. Neill Collins who has been signed on loan to fill in for the injured Kisnorbo has looked shaky and his partnership with skipper Richard Naylor has failed to impress raising the question as to whether the Manager has no faith in two of the centre-backs available at his disposal, namely Rui Marques and Lubomir Michalik. The duo has played their fair share of games for the Whites with Marques captaining the side at one point. Grayson might be tempted to give Collins one last chance against the Dons before opting to use Marques or another defender for the remaining two games in the season.
Moving on to another topic Australian billionaire Frank Lowy who was linked with making an offer to take over Leeds United has apparently decided not to press further as he reportedly shifted attention to Championship strugglers Crystal Palace. With the club able to attract close to 25,000 supporters on a good day the Whites are an enticing entity with massive potential provided they can earn promotion to the next level. Lowy was reportedly put off by the sharp criticism of Ken Bates yet none of these claims have been confirmed with Lowy’s sources tight lipped about the sensitive subject. A long and grueling season is on the verge of ending with the fans hoping for promotion and anxious to win against the Dons to get closer to the coveted prize of Championship football.