Leeds United's Dan James puts improvement down to confidence and selfishness

Leeds United’s Dan James thinks being more confident and selfish is behind his best season in front of goal.

The Wales winger scored his 12th goal of the season on Sunday to send the Whites top of the Championship going into March's international break.

The Hull-born player had never previously scored more than five in a campaign.

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But it was the way he scored it which showed the improvement in the former Swansea City and Manchester United, who was a second-half substitute for Willy Gnonto, the scorer of Leeds’ opening goal.

CALM: The composure behind Dan James' goal against Millwall showed his improvementCALM: The composure behind Dan James' goal against Millwall showed his improvement
CALM: The composure behind Dan James' goal against Millwall showed his improvement

When Georginio Rutter pulled the ball back to him, James showed incredible composure to wait for the goal to opening up as Joe Byran tried desperately to throw himself in the line of fire, and pick his spot.

"I thought the defender was going to get a slight touch but it went just past his left foot and where Georgie's position was he was never going to be able to get it across the goal so I knew it was going to be a cut-back," said James.

"I wasn't quite set for it so the way the defender was set I didn't think I could get around it to beat him.

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"I've taken a touch and I just tried to put it through his legs and thankfully he couldn't clear it off the line."

The goal was important in the match as well as the league table.

"Willy found a great goal to unlock them and at 1-0 you always feel they're going to get that one chance,” admitted James. “Illan (Meslier) made a few good saves."

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Asked what was behind his improved finishing, James explained: "It's more being confident in front of goal and being that little bit more selfish.

"Whether I'm starting or coming on it's about how can I make an impact, can I get a goal and help the team by doing that?

"It's great that we're creating a lot of chances and it's not letting chances get to you when you miss one, you always think there's going to be another one. I'm more confident this season and I've got the resilience to go again."

The goal completed a great week personally for James, who will join up with Wales team-mates Ethan Ampadu, Connor Roberts and Joe Rodon for this week's Euro 2024 play-off against Glen Kamara's Finland.

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"On Thursday I welcomed my second boy and I'm absolutely delighted," said James. "I'm looking forward to having a couple of days with them (mother and child) before we meet up."

The victory sent Leeds top of the table on goal difference from long-time leaders Leicester City, although the Foxes have a game in hand having sat out the last round of matches to play in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

James insisted that did not come into Leeds' thinking.

"It was just about if we could get another win," he said. "It's the first time we've been top of the table but it doesn't mean anything – Leicester have still got a game in hand.

"it's nice to go into the international break with a win but we can't get carried away, there's still eight games to go, eight massive games and we're looking forward to them.”

Leeds return to league action at Watford on Good Friday before welcoming Hull City on Easter Monday.

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