'Big doubt' over Leeds United star as Daniel Farke stresses that Championship top-two battle is still a four-horse race with Leicester City, Ipswich Town and Southampton

LEEDS UNITED chief Daniel Farke has confirmed that key man Ethan Ampadu is a big doubt for Tuesday’s Championship home game with Sunderland due to illness - with his ever-present record at league level in jeopardy.

The Wales international, outstanding in a wonderfully consistent 2023-24 campaign, is struggling with illness.

Farke said: “There’s a question mark behind Ethan Ampadu, he’s (been) struggling with illness in the last 48 hours and he was unavailable to train with us yesterday or today.

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"So it will be a tight race if he will be available. We have a short session tomorrow morning. He would need to be available for this in order to be in the mix.

Leeds United boss Daniel Farke. Picture: GettyLeeds United boss Daniel Farke. Picture: Getty
Leeds United boss Daniel Farke. Picture: Getty

"But there’s a big doubt about him.

"We still have to be careful with Connor Roberts and Willy Gnonto and it was a bit like a positive surprise that they were in the (Coventry) squad because the doctor said normally, they would be fully fit after this week and rather than 90 minutes, they would prepare for a short-term appearance.

"Both looked sharp, but Connor, in the end, felt a bit of a reaction in his muscle.

"We took him out of training yesterday. It was no new injury, but just a precaution and the same with Willy as the object data was that his muscle was a bit tired. I think, with them, they will probably both be available, but I cannot confirm if they are available for more minutes than the last game.

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"In the next four or five days, we have to be a bit careful and I expect them to be fully ready for ninety minutes just for the Middlesbrough game, if I am honest.”

Farke says that players and staff have reflected on the weekend loss at Coventry - United’s first in the league in 2024 - in a ‘self-critical’ way.

Equally, the former Norwich boss insists that everyone must also look at ‘the bigger picture’ in terms of the league table, with Leeds having enjoyed a remarkable run so far in the calendar year.

The weekend saw more twists and turns in the race to finish in the top two and Farke has reiterated that he believes that fourth-placed Southampton cannot be discounted, despite a three-match winless sequence and haul of just two wins in their past eight fixtures.

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Saints host Coventry on Tuesday, the first of three successive home matches.

Farke added: “It’s important to see the bigger picture.

"Around Christmas, when we were 17 points behind Leicester, if someone had told me that with five games to go, we were just two points behind them - okay, they have one game in hand - and several points ahead of Southampton, if someone had told us it would be this scenario with five games to go, many people would say it was not realistic.

"We have done this and there’s lots to be proud of and important to see the bigger picture.

"We also have to speak about what we have to improve on.

"Also Southampton are still in the race. They have the most difficult and complicated situation to finish in the top two, but they have quality and also shown before that they are capable of winning several games in a row.

"Four teams still have the race to finish in the top two. It will be a tight race.”

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