Birmingham City v Leeds United: Reaching play-offs remains my aim – Warnock

Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock

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UNDER-FIRE Leeds United manager Neil Warnock has acknowledged he is facing a six-week spell which could decide his future at Elland Road.

Warnock received plenty of criticism from furious Whites supporters in Saturday’s abysmal derby defeat at lowly Barnsley as the club’s travel sickness continued with a fourth straight away loss.

Despite United’s latest setback on their travels, Warnock wants to be judged at the end of the season, although he is wise enough to appreciate the importance of the coming weeks to both the club’s hopes of success and, potentially, his own future.

He said: “The end of the season is the time to judge. Okay, if it falls away in the next six or seven weeks, then it is a different ball game, but my intentions are to get into those play-offs.”

Warnock’s attention switches to cup business at St Andrews tonight in a third-round replay; the United chief missed the first game on January 5 due to illness.

Warnock has revealed he has spoken to top-scorer Luciano Becchio after expressing fears after Saturday’s derby that his below-par display at Oakwell was due to him being distracted by speculation regarding his own future.

He has yet to decide whether the 19-goal top-scorer will lead the line tonight.

On Becchio, whose current deal expires in the summer of 2014, he added: “I have had a word with Beccs. But it is difficult when agents are in your ear all the time. All through the transfer window, it is going to be a nightmare.

“But he has got to get his mind on things. He is under contract, but it is hard when players get figures pushed at them. I will have to see how he is before the game.”

Warnock held an inquest into Saturday’s shambolic Oakwell display yesterday when he met with players and wants his side to deliver some payback this evening by booking a mouth-watering televised fourth-round home assignment with Spurs on January 27.

He said: “We have to move on to the next game now. It’s a big one at Birmingham, and we have to re-group and there’s an incentive at the end of it.

“The fans who travel to Birmingham in horrible weather will be doing so because they want to see us play Spurs.”

Adam Drury has recovered from illness and is available for tonight’s game. Michael Tonge and Ross Barkley are ineligible.

Last six games: Birmingham City DDLLWD, Leeds United LDWLLW.

Last time: Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 0; Wed, October 26, 2011; The Championship

Referee: A Woolmer (Northants).

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