Ipswich Town aiming to put a dent in Leeds United’s automatic promotion hopes
13:00 16 February 2017
Ipswich Town entertain fifth-top Leeds United at Portman Road this weekend. Here we look at the opposition’s season so far and identify the key protagonists in the Whites’ rise to the play-off spots
Recent history - Could this be Leeds United’s season? After 13 years of hurt, including three seasons in League One, the West Yorkshire club are well set for a play-off place, at least.
Stability off the pitch looks to have transmitted to the team on it, eccentric chairman Massimo Cellino seemingly having finally found his right man for the manager’s job, in Garry Monk.
Monk brought in £3m man Kemar Roofe, from Oxford, in the summer, but it’s Chris Wood, a player the manager inherited that is making all the headlines – the former Ipswich loanee having hit 19 goals in 28 league starts.
His goals have helped Leeds to 18 wins from 32 league games this season, although the Whites have also lost 11 league matches.
At the other end of the pitch, uncompromising Swedish centre-back Pontus Jansson has quickly become a fans’ favourite. He signed on-loan in pre-season from Torino and will make his move permanent in the summer.
Recent form - Leeds have lost three of their last five league and cup games, including the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at non-league Sutton United.
Prior to that game, Monk’s team had picked up six victories in eight league games. Since then, they have won two and lost two – the defeats at Huddersfield and at home to Cardiff.
Leeds are six points clear of seventh-placed Norwich City.
January business - Wingers Alfonso Pedraza and Modou Barrow, from Swansea and Villareal respectively, joined on-loan in January. Pablo Hernandez signed on a permanent basis from Al-Arabi.
Team news - Defenders Luke Ayling and Kyle Bartley are both on nine bookings and one more before the second Sunday in March carries an automatic two-match ban, so Monk could shuffle his pack.
Skipper Liam Bridcutt is available after a one-match ban.
Referee - Hampshire’s Keith Stroud has issued 154 yellow and 11 red cards in 32 games this season, including six each in Town’s 3-2 win at Wigan and the 4-2 home win over Barnsley,
Betting - Town (15/8), Draw (9/4) Leeds (11/5)