Leeds United aim for more improvement after international break

Pablo Hernandez shoots past goalkeeper Adam Davies to score Leeds United's second goal against Barnsley.

Pablo Hernandez shoots past goalkeeper Adam Davies to score Leeds United's second goal against Barnsley.

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Leeds United head for another international break in good spirits, but head coach Garry Monk reckons there is further improvement to come from his team after another couple of weeks of hard graft on the training pitch.

The second batch of seven games this season brought five victories for the Whites and Monk admitted he would rather the campaign kept going instead of having the break, although he is planning to use the spare time to good effect.

United were just above the relegation zone at the time of the first international break, but now stand in the top half of the EFL Championship table following last Saturday’s 2-1 success at home to Barnsley, which brought a fourth successive home win after a draw and two defeats in the first three matches at Elland Road.

“It’s a shame the international break has come,” said Monk.

“The last one we went in with a loss and felt it had come at the right time, but now we want the games to keep coming.

“It’s a bit disappointing in that sense but we’ll use that period again to improve the things we need to improve and try come out the other side like we did in this period.

“What we’ve been working on is really starting to show. We’ve seen a real improvement in these last seven games.

“You always want more and, in the best scenario, being selfish, we felt that we should still probably be undefeated this month if I’m honest. But that’s been and gone.

“It was always going to take time to improve the team and make them understand and put it on to the pitch because it takes a lot of work. But now you are seeing the confidence and the understanding of what’s expected of them and if we can continue on our way then it can lead to success.

“Offensively, we are going to get better and I think that is one of the hardest things to give. But all in all, the defensive mind of the team has been excellent. Offensively, we are all trying to improve as well but I think in terms of a progression, I think I couldn’t have asked for too much more in such a short space of time from the group. It’s a platform to push on.

Monk outlined plans of what he wants to get out of the week without a game ahead.

He added: “We’ll use this period now to work on what we need to improve.

“It’s important to give the players some time off, but we’ll do some work and hopefully we’ll see a good reaction come out after the international break.

“We have to try and push on now and keep trying to pick up results.”

Leeds, meanwhile, will have to continue to do without midfielder Liam Bridcutt following the break and he could be out a further six weeks after his foot injury was diagnosed as a “slight fracture of his metatarsal”.

But the performance of Kalvin Phillips earned the youngster big praise from fans as he broke up many of Barnsley’s attacks in a dominant second half performance last Saturday and enjoyed probably his best display in a Leeds shirt.

Fellow midfielder Eunan O’Kane was not as impressive as in recent games, but Monk now knows he has some serious competition for midfield places with another youngster, Ronaldo Vieira, fit again and also giving some promising displays this season.