Ethan Ampadu says Southampton defeats count for nothing as Leeds United prepare for Wembley

Leeds United's Ethan Ampadu says two regular-season defeats to Southampton will have no bearing on what happens in Sunday's Championship play-off final on Sunday, and not getting carried away by the occasion is one of the strengths of a young side.

That Ampadu is set to lead out the team at Wembley aged just 23 is emblematic of what Daniel Farke has created at Elland Road since becoming manager last summer. Liam Cooper, at 32, is the club captain, but the on-field emphasis has been on a younger group.

That could make them more vulnerable to the emotions of a massive afternoon where both teams will be acutely aware of what promotion means on a personal level and financially to clubs relegated from the Premier League 12 months ago.

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Leeds also have the weight of history having never won a play-off final, plus the more recent record of losing home and away to Southampton in 2023-24.

"If you were to flip it and we'd beaten Southampton twice this season that wouldn't mean we'd win the game on Sunday so you can't look at what's happened in the season, all you can do is look at those games to see what we can improve on," says Wales international Ampadu.

"I don't think you can really judge it off what's gone on in the past, Sunday's Sunday."

Having so recently played in the Premier League and with their history, Leeds have been big fish in this division, as Southampton are too, but by and large they have handled it well.

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"You don't really look on it as having a target on your back," says Ampadu.

CALM: Ethan Ampadu says level-headedness is a strength of this Leeds United squadCALM: Ethan Ampadu says level-headedness is a strength of this Leeds United squad
CALM: Ethan Ampadu says level-headedness is a strength of this Leeds United squad

"I'm going to sound really basic here but we just try to prepare for each game. We know there's a lot of things that go around that but for us players, we're focusing on the game on Sunday, an 11 v 11 game of football and we're hopefully going to give ourselves the best chance to achieve our dreams.

"I try to use the expectation in a good way because we both have the same goals. Us and the fans want to achieve the same things so it's just about working towards that.

"It's a big responsibility but it's one we're enjoying.

Farke's calmness, having managed Norwich City to the Championship title twice, has helped negotiate this season but Ampadu insists the squad is anyway a very grounded one.

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"Even in our good run of form he didn't let us go over the top and as players ourselves we're good at not going over the top," he stresses. "The job wasn't done then.

"The boss is a massive one for that. His level-headedness to calm us down in moments is big.

"The build-up (to Sunday) is different, even with the extra media stuff but on the training pitch we'll work the same way. No matter what game this season we've worked as hard as we could.

"It's a game of football so in that aspect it's going to be the same.

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"We've got our target, we set it at the start of the season and it's achievable on Sunday.

"We know it's going to be difficult, Southampton are a very good team, very brave in the way they play, they want the ball a lot, but we're working hard to put our gameplan together and give ourselves the best chance."

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