Leeds United v Sunderland: Paul Heckingbottom wary of threat from Black Cats

Frustration: Gaetano Berard fires the ball into the back of his goal after Leeds go 2-0 down at Fulham.
Frustration: Gaetano Berard fires the ball into the back of his goal after Leeds go 2-0 down at Fulham.
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HEAD coach Paul Heckingbottom is urging his Leeds United side to adopt a “no-fear approach” whatever the opposition with the Whites chief amitting he is “jealous” of high-flying teams such as Tuesday night’s conquerors Fulham.

Heckingbottom will look to land his third win in charge of Leeds when second-bottom Sunderland arrive at Elland Road today with United aiming to respond to the 2-0 loss at Craven Cottage.

I’m jealous of where Fulham are and what they are doing. We want to be in those sorts of positions and playing in atmospheres like that every week

Leeds United manager, Paul Heckingbottom

That victory left Fulham third and just five points off the automatic promotion places with a 13-point gap to those teams outside the play-offs.

Leeds, meanwhile, head the bottom half of the division in 13th with United’s season already essentially over with them 10 points behind the top six with just half-a-dozen games remaining.

Heckingbottom admits the aim is to be in a similar position to Fulham this time next year and the head coach is calling on his players to adopt a cavalier attitude to get them there.

“I’m jealous of where Fulham are and what they are doing,” admitted Heckingbottom.

“We want to be in those sorts of positions and playing in atmospheres like that every week with us chasing the top-six places.

“The approach the other night is how we want to approach games going forward, home or away, against top of the league or bottom of the league, playing with a no-fear approach that lets the players express themselves.

“You need wins and we need belief and the wins help with the belief. But the players have to believe because that is what makes the difference in big moments.

“Otherwise you can become a team that plays well and wins every now and again, performing well and being a steady team in the league but you are not going to end up a winner. So you have to believe in everything you do, with the ball and without the ball and really commit to it.”

Leeds will be looking for back-to-back victories at Elland Road today, having seen off relegation battling Bolton Wanderers 2-1 on Good Friday.

Heckingbottom is warning the Black Cats could offer a real threat despite sitting second bottom and eight points off safety, following Good Friday’s 4-1 win at Derby County.

“They scored four and they were really good value for that as well,” said Heckingbottom.

“They could have won by more.

“We know they have got good players in their side and I think that’s why everyone is talking about them so much because I know the squad and the players, where they have been and the levels they have played at but they find themselves near the bottom.

“On their day they can be a real dangerous team, they have just not done it often enough. We have to prepare for that but it makes for a good atmosphere and you can’t just go through the motions or you will come unstuck.”