Jewell Looks Set to Keep Faith in Youngsters at Leeds
Friday, 20th Jan 2012 15:11
Town boss Paul Jewell will be weighing up whether to stick with youngsters such as Josh Carson, Luke Hyam, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Tommy Smith or recall some of his fit-again senior players when the Blues take on Leeds at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon. Last week’s youthful line-up impressed as they drew 2-2 at home to Blackpool.
The Town manager has skipper Grant Leadbitter (hip) and central defender Damien Delaney (foot) available again after injuries, while striker Jason Scotland is expected to be fine after suffering a hamstring problem at the end of the draw with the Seasiders.
Jewell says that in addition to those three, midfielder Jimmy Bullard is getting stronger after his recent illness: “Jimmy’s training, he came on last week having trained for only a couple of days. It was a really nasty virus he had.
“He’s been in training this week, so it’s only Lee Bowyer out of the senior players who isn’t fit.”
Ultimately, the Town boss will probably keep faith with last week’s XI with Hyam and Andy Drury having formed a feisty central midfield partnership against Ian Holloway’s men, while Lee Martin was employed in a free role behind lone out-and-out striker Scotland.
Carson and Emmanuel-Thomas are likely to continue on the left and right of midfield respectively with Alex McCarthy in goal, Aaron Cresswell and Carlos Edwards the full-backs and Smith and Ibrahima Sonko at centre-half.
The Blues boss says Leeds will have been missing skipper Jonny Howson, even before his still ongoing move to Norwich: “He’s been injured anyway and I think they’ve missed him since he’s been injured.
“They’ve got Robert Snodgrass back, which is a big boost for them and he scored against Crystal Palace last week.
“Leeds are another team who have aspirations of being in the Premier League, and in fact the Champions League. It’s not that long since they were in the Champions League.
“That’s the level of difficulty of this division; everyone thinks they should be in the Premier League, they’ve got a great history, great support, they’ve done this, done that.”
He has praise for his Leeds counterpart Simon Grayson, who played for him during his time as Bradford boss: “I think the manager there has done a fine job. People have been talking about him being under pressure, which I think is quite amazing really.
“Who am I to be talking about people being under pressure, but I think he’s done a terrific job - they got relegated three years ago, they almost got promoted the first season after they were promoted [from League One], they had a terrific season last year and are on the edge of the play-offs again this year.
“It’s a hard place to go to, Elland Road,“ he added. “It’s a hostile ground, so, like every game in this league, and I say it every week, it’s not going to be easy.”
While Howson has all but departed, the Whites have re-signed former midfielder Fabian Delph on loan from Aston Villa. Winger Robert Snodgrass could return to the starting line-up having recently undergone an appendix operation.
Central defender Paddy Kisnorbo is out for the season due to a knee injury, while new signing Robbie Rogers is still waiting for the paperwork to go through on his move from MLS side Columbus Crew.
Historically, Leeds have the superior record in the fixture, winning 26 (25 in the league) clashes between the teams, Town have been victorious on 23 (18) occasions and with 19 (16) games ending in draws.
In August, Scotland and Keith Andrews – a Whites target in the summer and reportedly again now - scored the goals as the Blues came from behind to beat 10-man Leeds United 2-1 at Portman Road.
The visitors dominated the first half and went in front via Ross McCormack, but after the break Leeds had Aidan White sent off for pulling down Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Scotland and then Andrews’s deflected last-minute strike saw Town to the points.
At Elland Road in March, Town recorded only their second 0-0 draw of the 2010/11 season as they left West Yorkshire with a deserved point.
Both sides could have been in front at the break after an end-to-end first period, Tamás Priskin and Lee Martin missing the Blues’ best opportunities. In the second half Town rarely threatened but their backline held firm.
Alex Bruce joined the Whites from Town in the summer of 2010 and former Blues loanee Darren O’Dea moved to Elland Road, also on loan, from Celtic during this close season.
Andros Townsend, who is on loan at Leeds from Spurs, was with the Blues on the same basis last season, making 14 starts and two sub appearances, scoring one goal.
Lee Bowyer, who misses the match with a groin injury, was with Leeds between 1996 and 2003, making 257 starts and eight sub appearances, scoring 55 goals. Keeper Alex McCarthy made six appearances during a loan spell at Leeds before Christmas, enjoying his time at Elland Road.
Town fitness coach Andy Liddell is from Leeds and is a supporter of the club, while boss Paul Jewell’s family home is a “nine iron away" from the hotel where the Blues are staying ahead of the game.
Prior to the match, the North of England Branch of the Supporters Club are holding their AGM with Kevin Beattie, Alex Mathie and Simon Clegg all attending. All fans are welcome to come along. Full details here.
Saturday’s referee is Geoff Eltringham from Sunderland, who has shown 54 yellow cards and three red in 24 games so far this season. Eltringham has never refereed either the Blues or the Whites before.
Squad from: McCarthy, Lee-Barrett, Wright, Edwards, Cresswell, Ainsley, Sonko, Smith, Delaney, Hyam, Drury, Bullard, Leadbitter, Martin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Carson, Murphy, Scotland, Chopra, Ellington.
Photo: Action Images
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