Leeds United are Championship's 'toughest test' - and positive injury news could make them tougher

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke has warned Leicester City they face the Championship’s toughest test on Friday night, with some positive team news making it potentially harder still.

Leicester are clear at the top of the Championship but as well as being their closest challengers, the Whites have made a 100 per cent start to league football in 2024 as rivals Southampton and Ipswich Town have faltered.

Farke is keen to make full use of his side's momentum in the televised game. A slip up could give encouragement to the sides chasing the second automatic promotion spot, but Leeds won the reverse fixture in the east Midlands.

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“We want to use our momentum,” said Farke. “We have delivered consistency (in) how we defended, just conceded one goal in this period 2024, created many chances, scored many goals, won every league game, into the next round of the (FA) Cup.

TOUCH AND GO: Leeds United striker Patrick BamfordTOUCH AND GO: Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford
TOUCH AND GO: Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford

“We want to use this momentum. Every game has the same value. This is a spotlight game, but in 46 games you always have the chance to win three points.

“We have a home game and we face the toughest opponent in this league, but so do Leicester. They know we are a good side.

“It's a big game for the outside world, the pundits, the media and our fans. For us, it's another chance to get more points.”

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Nine points clear at the top of the table with 15 matches to play, Leicester have been anointed champions already by many.

“Leicester are top of the table right now and deserve that label,” reflected Farke, pictured, who won this title twice with Norwich City. “They are the most consistent team in that regard.

“We had a tough start, but are in a good rhythm now.”

Jaidon Anthony is available again having missed Saturday's win at Plymouth Argyle for personal reasons, and Farke has not given up hope of having Patrick Bamford too.

“Jaidon Anthony is back in training and available, which is good news,” he said.

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“Patrick, it has developed in a positive way in the last days. It's not realistic for this game, maybe, but who knows? We still have 48 hours.

“He has not trained with the team so far, but we have another session on Thursday and it could be he's involved in that session and he's at least a topic for the squad on Friday evening. He'll definitely be available next week.”

Reserve goalkeeper Karl Darlow has recovered from a thumb injury and Pascal Struijk is making good progress from an adductor injury which means he is yet to play this calendar year.

“Karl is back in main parts of training and he's been out for a few weeks, but he needs to reach match sharpness before we call him back,” said Farke.

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“It is positive (on Struijk). He is allowed to extend his training load and hopefully he'll be ready to join team training but we have to build him up in the next two weeks.

“I expect him to be back available for the games after the international break (in March).”

Full-back Sam Byram is expected back in training next week.

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