Redfearn stands by Leeds squad hammered at Ipswich

LEEDS UNITED head coach Neil Redfearn is set to stand by the players responsible for a heavy defeat to Ipswich Town when Fulham come to Elland Road tomorrow.

Neil Redfearn

Redfearn dismissed the option of sweeping changes in response to last weekend’s 4-1 loss at Portman Road as doubt continued to hang over the fitness of Giuseppe Bellusci.

The Italian defender missed the trip to Ipswich with a hamstring strain and Redfearn will assess his condition during training tomorrow before deciding whether to consider him for Saturday’s game.

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A change which sees Bellusci replace Jason Pearce in the centre of Leeds’ defence could be the only alteration for the Championship clash with Fulham.

United’s defeat at second-placed Ipswich followed on from an impressive 2-0 win over league leaders Derby County and extended the club’s poor run of away form.

But speaking at his pre-match press conference today, Redfearn said: “We’ve been playing well at home and I’m mindful of that. Sometimes you can make things worse by trying to make them better.

“Saturday was a game we got beat in heavily but the previous week we had a great result. We kept a clean sheet against a top side so sometimes you have to say it’s a bad day at the office and move on.

“We’ve got a confidence about us (at home) and the game we play fits the majority of the players. It suits us. I’m trying to get us into a league position where we can relax and play out football but the signs are good. They’re still good.”

Redfearn said Bellusci’s training schedule had been limited this week in an effort to prevent any aggravation of his injury before Saturday’s match.

“He’s had a week of rehab and we’ll monitor him again tomorrow,” Redfearn said. “We’ve been careful with because it’s more important that he’s fit for the game, rather than what he does through the week in training.

“I don’t think it’s a bad strain. There is a tear but not a bad one. If he can get through everything tomorrow then we’ll consider him.”

Fulham were thrashed 5-0 by Watford in their previous match and the dismissal of goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli in that match will see second-choice Gabor Kiraly play at Elland Road on Saturday.

The club have struggled since their relegation from the Premier League and are one point behind Leeds in the table, 10 short of the play-offs.

“Fulham are on an upward trend,” Redfearn insisted. “I’d have thought they’ll be saying something similar to us - they’re on a good run, last week was a blip.”

This weekend’s clash will also see the return of striker Ross McCormack for the first time since he left United for Fulham in a £10.75m deal.

McCormack scored 29 times for Leeds last season, finishing as the Championship’s top scorer, but he has struck only five times for Fulham.

Mirco Antenucci is leading the way at Elland Road this term, with eight goals to his name.

Redfearn said: “He (McCormack) did great for Leeds, there’s no two ways about that. His goal total was unbelievable and his ability to finish - it goes without saying that he’s a proven goalscorer.

“But Antenucci’s probably one of the hottest strikers in the Championship. His finishing’s been different class. He’s hot property at the moment.”