By George Sanders
A feisty Yorkshire derby takes place Saturday, as play-off outsiders Leeds United host relegation threatened Sheffield Wednesday.
The hosts who are currently 13th placed in the Championship come in to the game with just one win and two losses in their last five games. The single victory was a narrow 1-0 win over Brentford and was in fact the Whites’ first win since December 2017. In their previous fixture, Leeds gained a point in their 2-2 draw with 19th placed Reading.
The 18th placed Sheffield Wednesday make the short hop from South to West Yorkshire in dire need of a change of fortunes after a seven game winless run. The Owls lost four league games in a row in a process, prior to their recent 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers.
However going in to the game, Owls manager Jos Luhukay should be slightly encouraged as Joost van Aken, Barry Bannan and Sam Hutchinson are pushing to be in the starting eleven following recovery from injuries. Sheffield Wednesday supporter Jack Darlow highlighted that a win on Saturday is “vital” and he believed that this crop of newly-fit players could give his side the edge on Saturday, contending, “They provide much-needed, huge leadership.”
Wednesday keeper Kieran Westwood is reported to be two weeks away from a return. Top scorer Gary Hooper who has scored ten in all competitions will be fit to play.
Paul Heckingbottom’s Leeds camp have some players missing of their own. Liam Cooper, Kemar Roofe and Andy Lonergan are all suspected to be side-lined through injury. Roofe’s absence will be a blow to United as the 25 year-old has proved to be a key player for Leeds this season, scoring nine goals and becoming their second top goal scorer.
The Whites players were recently criticised by Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani who was critical of their: “commitment, passion and spirit”. However one Leeds United supporter revealed that a win against their Yorkshire rivals would restore faith in the team. “I think it would give the fans some hope of finishing towards the play-off places” said Russ Vernon, an avid Leeds supporter. “It will also give some fans renewed hope that Paul Heckingbottom is the right man for Leeds United.”
Wednesday arguably have more to play for as Leeds are looking unlikely to make the play-offs and the Owls are creeping nearer to the relegation zone. Nevertheless, with both teams in a poor run of form, it could be narrow margins that separate the two clubs come the final whistle.