Leeds United v Charlton Athletic: Warnock will not take risks amid busy schedule

AS the dust continues to settle on the stormy derby at Hillsborough, all parties understandably seem keen to draw a line in the sand.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones certainly does, as is made clear on the back page of today’s Yorkshire Post.

Leeds, too, are keen to move on after making their dissatisfaction known over the 16-week jail sentence handed out to Aaron Cawley, the supporter found guilty of attacking Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. The club, in a statement, made it clear that, “The sentence could, and should, have been considerably longer”.

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Of course, the Football Association’s investigation into the scenes that shamed Yorkshire football means the matter will return to the headlines at some stage in the future.

For now, however, the focus can return to football and, as Charlton Athletic tonight prepare to visit 
Elland Road, the need for United to banish a truly wretched record in midweek football.

A record of just three wins in 22 outings on a Tuesday or Wednesday since Leeds returned to the Championship in 2010 is one that Warnock knows has to change if his side are to make a concerted push for promotion.

He said: “Midweek has not been great at Elland Road, but I don’t see why the lads can’t lift themselves. We have got to revel in playing at home under floodlights.

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“This is a great arena for playing and, hopefully, we can get the right result, just as we did against Everton (in the Capital One Cup four weeks ago).”

Rudy Austin heads a list of injury doubts that also includes captain Lee Peltier, meaning David Norris and Adam Drury stand by for possible promotion to the starting line-up.

In the case of Austin, Warnock remains distinctly unhappy with Jamaica’s treatment of the midfielder during the recent international break.

After sitting out most of the World Cup qualifying defeat to Guatemala due to an ankle injury picked up playing for Leeds, the summer signing from SK Brann was brought back into the starting line-up for the Reggae Boyz’ 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda a week ago tonight.

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Austin did not then return to Yorkshire until less than 24 hours before the derby with Wednesday, which saw him withdrawn at half-time after struggling to keep pace during a fiercely-fought opening 45 minutes.

The United manager said: “I felt we struggled in the first half at Hillsborough.

“I am not taking anything away from Sheffield Wednesday’s performance but we had one or two well below par. Rudy was one of them, which is why he came off at half-time.

“He only got back late Thursday night, and after travelling all that way in economy class, I’m not surprised he wasn’t his usual self.

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“I am still not happy. I will be writing to the Jamaican FA to ask them what they are doing by making him play when injured.

“In training, Rudy didn’t seem himself (yesterday). We might have to send him for a scan. We’ll have to see.”

On tonight’s possible line-up, Warnock added: “Three games in a week means we have to be careful.

“There is no point playing anyone with a niggle against Charlton, not with two games (against Birmingham City on Saturday and Southampton in the Cup a week tonight) coming up so quickly afterwards.

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“The one consolation of three games back-to-back like this is they are all at home.

“We have been doing a lot of travelling lately and that does take it out of the players.

“What I have been pleased with is how the lads on the fringes have been doing. People like Norris, Luke Varney and Paul Green have all been looking sharp.”

Last time: Leeds United 0 Charlton Athletic 0; October 3, 2009; Championship.

Last six games: Leeds United WWWDWD, Charlton Athletic LWDLWL.

Referee: N Miller (County Durham).