NEIL REDFEARN believes Leeds United can crank up the pressure that comes with being top of the league when taking on Middlesbrough in tomorrow’s all-Yorkshire contest.
The Elland Road club are chasing a league double over Aitor Karanka’s side after edging the first home game of the season in August.
Since then, Boro have gone on to justify the pre-season billing that had the Teesside club among the favourites to win promotion and host Leeds as Championship leaders.
United, however, are on a good run of their own after taking 14 points from seven games since the turn of the year, a sequence that has elevated Redfearn’s men into the top half of the table.
“Boro are the most accomplished team in the division,” said the Leeds head coach. “They carry the weight of expectation quite well.
“But every game is important to them now. They know they can’t slip up because people underneath them are putting runs together as well. There is the pressure of being at the top and that is there on them.
“The more the game goes on and the more it is tight with nothing in it, the pressure builds. We will be mindful of that.”
As Leeds have been able to bask in the afterglow of moving into the the top half of the Championship after a four-month absence, Boro have been busy.
Sunday brought an FA Cup fifth-round exit at Arsenal, and just three days later Karanka’s men dropped two points in a 1-1 draw at struggling Birmingham.
Redfearn added: “They have had a tough week, with regards games. They had the FA Cup and then Birmingham on Wednesday.
“But, to be fair, he (Karanka) has rotated his squad round. It seems to be a case of resting a few of those who he sees as his better players. So, they should be full strength against us.
“The key for us is focusing on ourselves. We know that if we do that, we can get a result if we perform as we know we can.”
Leeds graduates firmly in first-team picture: Page 22.