Wigan Athletic v Leeds United: Garry Monk puts winning ahead of a ‘miracle’

On his way back: Liam Cooper, left, is recalled by coach Garry Monk, right, after completing a six-game ban. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
On his way back: Liam Cooper, left, is recalled by coach Garry Monk, right, after completing a six-game ban. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
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GARRY MONK wants Leeds United to forget about a potential mathematical ‘miracle’ and concentrate on ending their Championship campaign on a high with victory at already relegated Wigan Athletic in tomorrow’s noon kick-off.

Leeds are set to finish the season just one place below the division’s play-off places in seventh, despite sitting in the top six for four months of the season and at one point having an eight-point cushion above the chasing pack.

Sixth-placed Fulham sit three points ahead of Leeds with just one game remaining and the Cottagers visit fourth-placed Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow, having a better goal difference than Leeds of plus 13.

Head coach Monk is refusing even to entertain the prospect of fanciful final-day scorelines and instead he is intent on achieving a 23rd win of the season en route to the club’s highest-placed finish since 2011.

“It’s about focusing on winning this game and making sure that we finish winning,” said Monk.

“There’s an ‘if’, which you would say was a miracle if something happened within a game or whatever, but we know it’s highly unlikely and I think we have to be realistic.

But what’s realistic is us winning this game and that’s the most important bit to us – going there and putting on a performance level that we have shown many times this season and delivering it in this last game.

Garry Monk

“But what’s realistic is us winning this game and that’s the most important bit to us – going there and putting on a performance level that we have shown many times this season and delivering it in this last game.

“That’s our focus for this week and this game.”

Leeds will be missing midfielder and captain Liam Bridcutt, who is still recovering from an Achilles problem, while Swedish international centre-back Pontus Jansson serves the first match of a three-game ban issued for picking up 15 yellow cards.

Monk will benefit from the return of centre-back Liam Cooper, who has completed his six-game ban for stamping on Reading’s Reece Oxford in the clash on April 1.

Assessing the fitness of Cooper after the enforced lay-off, Monk reasoned: “We always have a plan.

“The players are pushed very hard physically and the whole group follows certain physical programmes to make sure that we give them the best opportunity when they are called upon to go to perform.

“Of course, matches are most important, but we always put in the work physically with a method of trying to give them the best possibility.

“So, physically, there is no problem with any of the players.”