GAMES against teams with an apparent Indian sign over Leeds United will hardly have been on Simon Grayson’s Christmas wishlist this year.
But that is exactly what the United chief has got with the Boxing Day trip to Derby County, where a 1-0 reverse made it five defeats in a row against the Rams for the West Yorkshire club, being followed by a short jaunt down the M1 to Barnsley.
Leeds have not beaten the Tykes in almost 11 years with the five meetings since then having resulted in two draws and three defeats, the most recent of which came last month when Keith Hill’s side triumphed 2-1 at Elland Road.
Grayson, however, insists this lunchtime’s clash at Oakwell is not a case of needing to avenge that loss but more a chance to kick-start Leeds’s season.
He said: “It is not about revenge or anything like that. It is about us going there and trying to win the game.
“Barnsley are a decent side with some good players and, like us, they lost on Boxing Day and will be looking for a result for themselves.
“On another day, we would have won on Boxing Day and we have to use that as motivation when we go to Barnsley.”
Tom Lees is set to miss out today after having to leave the field following a clash of heads at Derby, meaning Paul Connolly is likely to return at right-back. Alex Bruce has been recalled from a loan spell at Huddersfield Town as cover.
Grayson will have a big decision to make over whether to start with the badly out-of-sorts Luciano Becchio or loanee striker Andy Keogh, whose stay at Elland Road is due to end after Monday’s visit of Burnley.
A national newspaper yesterday claimed Keogh was returning to Wolves because United could not afford a fee.
However, sources in the West Midlands have told the Yorkshire Post that no figure has even been mentioned between the two clubs for a striker who has netted twice in 23 appearances for Leeds.
Today marks the second half of the Championship season getting underway with Leeds sitting eighth in the table.
Compared to this stage last year, it represents a drop of four places but Grayson still insists United will be among the teams challenging for promotion.
He said: “I would love us to be 10 points clear at the top right now but we aren’t. What we have done is get ourselves in a position where we can get into the play-offs and beyond.”