SAM Byram insists Leeds United’s confidence has not been affected by the club’s lowly league position despite this weekend having the potential to dump Neil Redfearn’s strugglers in the relegation zone.
The Elland Road outfit are just two places and one point above the bottom three in the Championship after a shocking run that has yielded just two wins and 11 points from the last 16 games.
Victory today for Millwall at bottom club Blackpool and a positive result for Brighton & Hove Albion at Charlton Athletic could see United, who travel to Bolton Wanderers, slip into the bottom three of a division for the first time since the early weeks of the 2007-08 season.
Such a precarious position, however, has not dented the belief of Redfearn’s squad that they can get out of trouble, according to Byram.
“I don’t think our confidence is affected by the league table,” said the 21-year-old, who recently reached the milestone of 100 appearances for Leeds.
“When you are on the pitch, you are 100 per cent concentrated on how you are playing and what you are doing.
“It is never in the back of your head that if we lose this one, we will go further down.
“You might think about that after the game but not while you are playing. It is not in our heads, not at all.
“Instead, it is all about how you are going to approach things and what we have got to do to win.”
Leeds have beaten Bolton already this season, the first game of Redfearn’s spell in caretaker charge ending 1-0 at Elland Road in August.
It was the start of a stirring run that yielded 10 points from four games before United appointed Darko Milanic.
The move backfired spectacularly, Leeds’s current shocking run starting 16 games ago when the Slovenian’s first outing in charge ended in a 2-0 defeat to Brentford.
Redfearn’s job now is to rectify that damage and January, which also brings clashes with fellow strugglers, Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town, plus a home game with leaders Bournemouth, would be the ideal time to do just that.
Byram added: “At the minute, we look at every game as a crucial game, not the month as a whole.
“We know we’re down the bottom and we need to start getting wins and draws. Every game is going to be massive.
“Personally I don’t pay much attention to who else is playing. I will look at the results after a game but, beforehand, I just concentrate on us.”
Another Yorkshire club currently in a precarious position just above the drop-zone are Hull City.
The Tigers, two points and three places above the bottom three in the Premier League, travel to West Bromwich Albion decimated by injuries.
Sone Aluko is the latest to join a long list of absentees after sustaining a calf injury in the opening stages of last Sunday’s FA Cup third-round exit against Arsenal at the Emirates.
He joins Mohamed Diame, Liam Rosenior, Andrew Robertson, Robert Snodgrass and Gaston Ramirez on the sidelines.
It means manager Steve Bruce may be tempted into the loan market, the recent departure of Hatem Ben Arfa having opened up a slot in the squad.
Jermaine Defoe remains on the Tigers’ radar along with Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo, the 21-year-old who has made six appearances this season and scored one goal.
Bruce said: “I spoke with Wenger after the game and we are constantly on to the big clubs. That includes Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea.”
Asked if the French striker’s lack of goals had put him off at all, Bruce replied: “To be fair to him, how many times has he played? It is always very difficult coming on as sub.
“I don’t know how many starts he has had. But he played against us in the Cup final and I was very impressed with him.
“I saw him play for Arsenal against Dortmund in the Champions League as well.
“For the French Under-21s, he has been nothing short of fantastic. I saw a game when they beat England and I thought he was terrific. Sanogo is a very good player. I like him a lot and it may be an option for us. I don’t think we’re alone in that one.”
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