FA Cup: Pitch will pose additional challenge to Leeds, says Garry Monk

Leeds United head coach Garry Monk (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
Leeds United head coach Garry Monk (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
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HEAD COACH Garry Monk has urged Leeds United to draw upon the lessons of their recent FA Cup third-round tie at Cambridge United ahead of tomorrow’s trip to famed giant-killing minnows Sutton United (2pm).

Leeds – who sold midfielder Alex Mowatt to Yorkshire rivals Barnsley yesterday – take on the lowest-ranked team left in the competition in front of a televised audience in a re-run of the fourth-round meeting in January 1970, when United ran out emphatic 6-0 victors.

Monk’s side were similarly under the glare of the spotlight ahead of the trip to the Abbey Stadium earlier this month, but progressed with a 2-1 triumph, although not without some adversity with the U’s taking a first-half lead.

The 3G surface at Gander Green Lane tomorrow will also serve as a further leveller, as the National League outfit eye a famous upset.

Monk is also acutely aware that neutrals across the land will be hankering for a big shock.

He said: “It’s a typical FA Cup story and it is something that is in their history as Sutton has had that history of FA Cup upsets.

“It is the same as what we faced in the last round. It’s a very potentially difficult game for us, but what we have to do is impose our way of playing and our football on the pitch.

“I think for sure that the Cambridge game helps us with that experience of knowing what type of environment we are going to go into, so that is good.

“We need to use that experience well. Of course, there is a different surface that we are going to play on, so that poses a different challenge.”

Hull City, Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough are also in fourth-round action along with Leeds and all possess a healthy chance of progressing to the fifth round of the cup, with Yorkshire having boasted four representatives in the last 16 of the competition on just one occasion in the past eight years.

Finalists in 2013, Hull face their second game in under 72 hours when they visit Fulham, who knocked out Boro in the league Cup earlier this season.

Despite the Tigers’ hectic schedule, which sees them play three matches in under a week, head coach Marco Silva has pledged to recognise the integrity of the cup by fielding a competitive line-up, despite relegation-threatened Hull having key Premier League league games against Manchester United and Liverpool in the coming week.

Silva, who made seven changes for Thursday night’s EFL Cup semi-final second leg with United, said: “I do not care if it is Man United or Fulham or Swansea, it is our obligation to give 100 per cent – and we will do that on Sunday.

“Fulham is the priority because it is the next game. (But) We will make changes to our side – rest is important.

“It is important we continue to play in the FA Cup, but we need to be careful and respect our opponent.”

Like Silva, Huddersfield head coach David Wagner has a significant league double-header looming large on the horizon next week, with his Terriers side hosting Brighton & Hove Albion and Leeds in two games of potentially huge importance at the John Smith’s Stadium.

But the German has stressed that he is treating this afternoon’s tie at League One outfit Rochdale very seriously – and will not be distracted by impending Championship business.

A travelling contingent of 3,500 will head to Spotland for this afternoon’s all-ticket Roses tie and Wagner admits he is relishing his first genuine taste of a full-blown cup occasion with Town seeking to book a place in round five for just the second time this century.

He said: “Next week is irrelevant for me and all that is relevant is Saturday.

“We have the opportunity, with 3,500 supporters backing us, to come into the round and we will invest and try everything to stay in this competition.

“I am very excited and we would like to be involved further in this competition.

“Rochdale are a tough opponent and we are worried about their threat, especially at home.

“But we have a great away support behind us, which will help us for sure, and it looks like it will be a proper cup game.”

Boro also face Lancastrian opponents in the shape of visiting Accrington Stanley this afternoon.