NEIL Warnock last night challenged his Leeds United players to emerge unbeaten from the next three games and set themselves up for a late surge to the Championship play-offs.
Warnock said the avoidance of defeats in matches against Millwall, Leicester City and Crystal Palace would be “perfect” as he insisted once again that a favourable run-in could swing the balance of the play-off race in United’s favour.
Leeds are six points short of the top six and will have their resilience tested in the coming eight days with tomorrow’s clash with Millwall at Elland Road leading into visits to automatic promotion candidates Leicester and Palace.
Warnock is continuing to draw hope from the tail end of United’s fixture list, in which the club play six of their last 10 matches at home, and his squad have an opportunity to put pressure on teams around them tomorrow with their match against Millwall kicking off at 12.30pm.
Warnock said: “It’s all about winning tomorrow. If we play well, that’ll be a bonus. The whole of the next week is about trying to gear up and get as many points as we can because if we see out this next week then I think our run-in’s as good as anyone’s.
“We’ve got to get a run started in the next three games and it would be nice if we could get out of the week undefeated. That would be perfect for me. It’s a big ask but it’s something we can do.
“Leicester and Palace will be expected to beat us, that’s the difference, and they’re still trying to get into second position. It’s not easy for clubs like that to just beat a team like Leeds. On paper you might say they should beat us easily but football doesn’t work like that.
“I still think it’s highly unlikely (that Leeds will reach the play-offs) and we’re playing catch-up but it can be done at this stage. Yes, we’ve got to overcome this week and overcome three games in a week, but we’ve got seven home matches to go. Every game is winnable and I’ve said that to the players.”
United have won 10 league games at Elland Road this season – a vast improvement on their pitiful home record last term – but Warnock admitted that their chance of reaching the top six would depend heavily on Leeds increasing their haul of away points.
The club have picked up just 14 from away fixtures, a record on a par with all three sides in the Championship’s relegation places.
Warnock said: “With Leicester away and Palace away, people won’t give us much hope but we’re capable of winning one of those games, if not both. It’s an exciting time for us now.
“We’ll try and win every home game but realistically we’re not going to win every home game so we have to get results away. But I look at the fixtures and it’s possible that after next week we could have an unbeaten run of eight or nine games, quite easily. This will be a fabulous week for us if we can get results.
“People have written us off but we’ve got all the ingredients. We’ve just got to hope that one of our forwards hits a scoring spree.”