Players to turn deaf ear to the Elland Road protests

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LEEDS UNITED manager Simon Grayson insists discontent on the terraces will not affect his team.

Tuesday night’s Carling Cup derby win over Bradford City saw a section of the Elland Road crowd chant ‘Bates out’ in protest at what they see as a disappointing summer of transfer dealings by the club.

Similar sentiments were expressed during the opening day defeat at Southampton, while fans are planning a protest outside the ground ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Middlesbrough.

When asked if he was worried about unrest among fans possibly affecting his players against Boro, Grayson said: “The players have to be focused and put in a performance. Unless you have earmuffs on, it is very difficult not to hear things. But what you have to make sure you do is fully concentrate on what you are doing. If we are winning matches, it doesn’t become so much of an issue.

“That is the major thing. When you look at Tuesday night, I thought the fans were excellent. We were 1-0 and then 2-1 down against local rivals but they stuck with the team.

“It is a test of character to go 1-0 down anyway but when one or two then start getting restless it makes it more of a test.

“But I have to say the only time I have had a problem with the crowd here was early on as Elland Road had become a difficult place for the players to play. In the two-and-a-half years since then, the fans have backed the team.”

Leeds will welcome back Robert Snodgrass, Max Gradel and Darren O’Dea after the trio missed the midweek win over the Bantams on international duty.

Billy Paynter is also unlikely to be fit, meaning Ross McCormack will once again be the only fit striker available in the absence of injured duo Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma.

Grayson did try and solve that problem on Monday by bringing in an experienced forward on loan only for the deal to collapse at the eleventh hour.