STUART DALLAS has bridled at suggestions that Leeds United’s Championship play-off quest is in grave danger ahead of a daunting run of February fixtures.
A benign-looking itinerary either side of the New Year – which saw Leeds face six teams in the bottom half of the table, including three relegation candidates – has yielded a mediocre five points from a possible 18, with many outsiders starting to write off the Whites’ top-six credentials.
A winless league streak extended to a fifth game in Tuesday’s dour derby draw at Hull City, but Dallas has a defiant message for any doom-mongerers who are predicting Leeds’s demise to continue ahead of a February schedule which features games against the promotion-chasing quartet of Cardiff City, Sheffield United, Bristol City and Derby County.
Leeds then end February with a home game with play-off outsiders Brentford before visiting another side with top-six hopes in Middlesbrough to start March before hosting runaway leaders Wolves on March 7.
Some much-publicised suspension issues have compounded the situation for Leeds, now down to tenth spot and four points adrift of sixth-placed Fulham, but Dallas remains defiant.
The Northern Ireland international, who made just his second appearance since November 22 on Tuesday, said: “I keep hearing people saying about February is a big month and if we do not do this, then where will we end up?
“But if we go and have positive results where do we sit? Does anybody think of that?
“Everybody is saying if we lose here or lose there, but what if we win? It is a different ball game.
“The boys are positive and we are four points off the play-offs.
“If we win on Saturday and look back at taking four points at Hull and at home to Cardiff, I do not think anybody can argue with that.”
I keep hearing people saying about February is a big month and if we do not do this, then where will we end up? But if we go and have positive results where do we sit? Does anybody think of that?Stuart Dallas
It may have proved a turgid derby spectacle in East Yorkshire, but given the disruption that Leeds continue to endure – with scheduled starter Matthew Pennington missing the game with an ankle problem and his centre-half replacement Conor Shaughnessy stretchered off with injury early on – Dallas believes that the Whites showed an element of courage on the night.
Much has been made of Leeds’s silky football early on in the 2017-18 campaign, but Dallas insists that he and his team-mates showed another unheralded side of their character at the KCOM Stadium, namely a willingness to scrap for each other on a testing night at Hull.
That was exemplified by Dallas’s display as a make-shift right-back as he did his bit to help stop Leeds from suffering a bruising third straight league loss.
He admitted: “I actually have not played right-back before. I’ve played left-back a few times but am just happy to get on the pitch when the gaffer wants me to.
“We have a depleted squad now, we are missing a lot of key players. But I thought we showed courage and we dug deep for each and every one of us.
“A few people have maybe asked a lot of questions of us, have we got the fight? Have we got the courage? And I think we showed that. We showed a lot of balls.”
As with Leeds, Hull saw their sequence without a league win extended on a frustrating evening, when a combination of errant finishing and fine goalkeeping from Felix Wiedwald denied them.
It resulted in a fourth straight home draw for relegation-threatened Hull, with a potentially serious ankle injury sustained by Markus Henriksen and a hamstring strain suffered by Ondrej Mazuch adding to their angst.
A lack of fortune also played its part in the Tigers’ travails, according to fit-again Will Keane, who believes that Hull, without a league goal in 2018, are desperately due a spot or two of luck in the scoring stakes after failing to find the net for a seventh league match in eight, with their current drought without a Championship goal being just shy of seven hours.
Keane, who continued his comeback from a serious injury with his third second-half cameo from the bench, said: “Sometimes, when you hit a bit of a sticky patch like we are at the minute, you just want any slice of luck to go your way.
“Especially for me coming on; you are hoping for something to just drop and there were a few scrambles in the box late on. Unfortunately, it just was not to be and we have got to keep going. Hopefully in the games to come, the luck will come our way.
“In the last couple of games, we have created plenty of opportunities. Against (Nottingham) Forest, we could have scored quite a few more. The fans could see we were taking the game to Leeds too and pushing them right to the end.
“We wanted to get the three points and weren’t just happy with the draw and hopefully, with that attitude in the coming weeks, we can get a bit more fortune and a couple of wins.
“Leeds are a lot higher up than us in the league at the minute, but there was no gulf in quality and we matched them in all departments and we do not need to be afraid of anyone and must focus on ourselves.”