By Jason Soutar
Leeds United host Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon as they bid to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive.
The Whites’ fate could yet be sealed on Saturday evening if local rivals Sheffield United defeat already relegated Ipswich Town and all but secure their own promotion to the Premier League, barring a massive goal difference swing on the final day of the season.
Going in to Sundays bout Leeds are on the back of two season crushing results after losing 2-1 at home to struggling Wigan and 2-0 away to Brentford, respectively. They will be looking to bounce back at Elland Road against the leagues form team in Villa, who have won their last 10 matches and will be heavily favoured by most in their upcoming play-off campaign.
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith confirmed that top scorer Tammy Abraham is ruled out for the match, with James Chester, Kortney Hause and Lovre Kalinic accompanying the young striker on the injury table.
Smith said: “James Chester is back training now. Kortney Hause won’t be ready for Sunday but will probably be ready for the Norwich game.”
Kemar Roofe celebrates his last minute winner at Villa Park in December’s 3-2 comeback win [source: throughitalltogether.sbnation.com]
United’s primary left-back options in Barry Douglas and Ezgjan Alioski are both out injured and will miss the rest of the season. Winger Stuart Dallas filled in at the left side of defence in Monday’s defeat at Griffin Park and Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa confirmed on Friday that Dallas will start in the vacant left-back position against the Villains. In other news, it was also confirmed that forward Kemar Roofe is sidelined with a hip injury.
This fixture is one that defender Pontus Jansson will be looking forward to in particular, having scored in 3 of the last 4 matches between the two sides; one of which came in December’s enthralling encounter in the return fixture at Villa Park, as Leeds overturned a two-goal deficit to win the match 3-2.
What have the managers got to say about Sunday’s match?
When asked about Leeds’ two defeats on the bounce, Smith said: “I don’t think it’ll have an effect. They’re programmed to win each game and they’ll try and do that. We’re exactly the same. It’ll be tough, but we want the win.”
While accompanied by midfielder Adam Forshaw in today’s press conference, Bielsa claimed: “We need a game to rebuild our optimism and winning on Sunday would help.”
When asked whether or not Leeds were going to remain concentrated on finishing in the top-two or were now thinking about the Play-Offs, the Argentine said: “Whatever the reality says.”
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