AFTER claiming one notable victory over Cardiff City already this week, Simon Grayson tonight sends his Leeds United side into the Welsh cauldron insisting lessons have been learned from the October mauling at the hands of their promotion rivals.
The Bluebirds triumphed 4-0 when the two teams met at Elland Road earlier in the season, a result that left United 16th in the Championship and the visitors joint top.Since then, however, Leeds have been transformed courtesy of a 12-game unbeaten run that means they travel to the Welsh capital
occupying a play-off place.
Cardiff are, courtesy of losing four of their last six games, a place behind the Yorkshire side who just four days ago won the race to sign Andy O'Brien on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers.
United manager Grayson said: "To lose 4-0 at home like we did against Cardiff earlier in the season was very disappointing.
"But the players dug in and decided that they weren't going to accept any more defeats like that. Twelve games later, we are still unbeaten. It was maybe a kick up the backside for one or two players but we had the opportunity to put things right and we have done that.
"I am sure that scoreline will be a motivation (tonight) but the biggest motivation is to remain unbeaten.
"Also, we are playing a top side and against some top individuals – (Craig) Bellamy and all the other big hitters they have got there.
"It is a big test for our individual skills and a point would be a good result. When we played them earlier in the season, they were playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of quality.
"But, recently, they have obviously had a few bad results. We will try to take advantage of that."
United will be without Neil Kilkenny, who has flown out to join up with Australia ahead of the Asia Cup, but Bradley Johnson is available despite picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the New Year's Day draw against Middlesbrough.
That is because of the change in the rules that saw the cut-off point for five bookings brought forward from February to the turn of the year. With Kilkenny missing for up to five weeks, Grayson is keen to bring in a replacement now that the transfer window is open.
He also wants to bring George McCartney back from Sunderland after the left-back impressed during a three-month stay that expired after the draw with Portsmouth on December 28.
The United manager said: "It might be a little bit too quick to get something done (before the Cardiff game) but that is not to say we are not trying.
"With George (McCartney) for example, Sunderland may want to try and sell him to someone and get money for him. But we are trying to bring him back and bring in other players to make us better."
Cardiff could hand a debut to Jon Parkin, who netted a hat-trick in Preston's dramatic 6-4 win at Elland Road earlier in the season, following the former Hull and Barnsley striker's capture on a two-and-a-half year deal.
On pipping tonight's opponents to the capture of O'Brien, Grayson said: "We haven't been beaten to a signature at all this season, and that's the case again with Andy. To beat Cardiff shows we mean business.
"Andy has fitted in very well with the team."
Last six games: Cardiff City LDLWLL, Leeds United WWWDDD.
Last time: Cardiff City 1 Leeds United 0; February 17, 2007; Championship.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).