Leeds Utd news – Howson makes U21 debut, O’Brien targets top two, McCartney retirement

Howson makes U21 debut.

Jonny Howson made his debut for England U21’s yesterday afternoon in the friendly match against Italy in Empoli.

The Leeds United captain came off the substitute bench for the last half hour of the game which Italy won 1-0 with a late penalty from Manchester United’s Federico Macheda. Howson, who was a late call up for the squad, became the first Leeds player to play for England at this level since Fabian Delph. Howson came on to replace Henri Lansbury, currently on loan to Norwich City from Arsenal, and was neat and tidy in possession. Macheda’s penalty came just two minutes from time after Leicester City’s Ben Mee hauled down Niccolo Gianetti.

O’Brien targets top two.

Andy O’Brien is targeting a top two finish as the season enters its final third. The United centre back, signed from Bolton Wanderers in the transfer window following a loan spell, believes that Leeds have the ability to earn an automatic promotion spot.

Talking to the clubs official website, O’Brien said: “It’s a sprint now and whoever wins the most games will get [an] automatic spot.” O’Brien was talking after the 1-0 win over Coventry saw Leeds extend their recent record to just one defeat in 17 games, a run which the experienced defender finds very impressive: “It’s been well documented that we’d won one in seven before Saturday, but we’d also lost just one in 16 which is one of the best runs I’ve ever been on.” O’Brien was quick to single out Leeds form wingers Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass as one of the key factors in United’s recent good form: “They are magic” O’Brien said: “Having players like that in your team makes it easier. I wouldn’t fancy facing them every week.”

McCartney retirement.

Leeds United left back George McCartney has retired from International Football.

The 29 year old left back, on loan from Sunderland until the end of the season, had been selected for the Northern Ireland squad for Wednesday’s Carling Nations cup clash against Scotland at the Aviva stadium in Dublin. The Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington, himself a former Leeds United left back, told the press that: “I was informed on Sunday that George was retiring from international football.” McCartney had retired previously in 2005 after a fall out with former manager Lawrie Sanchez but had been persuaded to re-join the fold by Worthington upon his appointment in 2007.

Meanwhile Robert Snodgrass is expected to be on the substitute bench for Scotland, after Craig Levein named his starting line-up 24 hours before the clash.

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