WHILE early season displays at home have been promising question marks still hang over whether Leeds United can cut it on their travels, writes Tony Harber.
A 2-1 defeat at Blackpool on Tuesday night was a poor start to the Whites’ away programme in the Npower Championship and they are now away again today at Peterborough.
Manager Neil Warnock will quickly want his players to eradicate errors he saw at Bloomfield Road when only fine goalkeeping from Paddy Kenny and the woodwork prevented a heavier loss.
He was happy with the work rate, but felt the forwards had not done enough to relieve pressure on the defence.
He said: “They were the better side, but after defending so well like we did we were our own worst enemies for the two goals.
“We had plenty of time to clear the ball for the first one and young Sam (Byram) got done for the second one – but I can’t fault the back lads because we didn’t hold it up enough.
“I thought the front four were poor and I told them that because we have to hold the ball up more away from home. As good as they were on Saturday, they were poor.”
Warnock chose to go with Aidan White back on the right wing after being forced to make a change from the starting line-up he had preferred in the 4-0 and 1-0 home wins over Shrewsbury and Wolves in the first two games of the season. He also shuffled his defensive pack with Tom Lees making his first start at centre-back and Lee Peltier moving to left-back.
The alterations were brought about by a knee injury suffered by Pontefract-born midfielder Paul Green, which is likely to keep him out for up to two months.
Warnock is disappointed to lose his summer signing from Derby after he had made a promising start to the campaign.
He said: “It’s looking like a grade two strain or a tear. We’re hoping four or six weeks, but it could be eight weeks. I had the dreaded feeling with it being his knee.
“He had a good pre-season and it’s a blow to us, but he’s a good healer so with a bit of luck it might not be as bad.
“It’s very difficult to replace him with the way he was playing, but we know what we’ve got and we’ll get on. It gives the opportunity for someone else.”
With Green out Warnock has other options, having brought the transfer listed Danny Pugh back into the first team squad. He also has summer signing from Norwich Adam Drury ready to make his debut at left-back if he decides to shuffle the defence round again while El Hadji Diouf – in talks over a permanent contract this week – could come in up front after substitute appearances in all three games so far.
Leeds did the double over Peterborough last season, scoring seven goals in the process, but will be wary of Posh’s attacking threat, led by skilful playmaker George Boyd and direct runner Paul Taylor, who has attracted the interest of several bigger clubs.
Darren Ferguson’s side have not fired on all cylinders in the league yet, having lost 2-0 at Leicester then 2-1 at home to Millwall, but they did beat Southend 4-0 in the Capital One Cup.
Warnock, meanwhile, is not confident he will be able to have the finances to add more players to his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
He added: “We’ve got to work on the assumption that we’re not bringing anyone in. We’ve just got to try and do the best we can.
“We might have a good 11, 13 or whatever and really you need a good 22 or 25 (players). But that doesn’t make you clear your lines properly.
“Blackpool’s subs changed the game and we didn’t have that depth. If you look at the programme again, their squad and our squad – similar to Wolves on Saturday – they had so many more options.”