Evans in charge as Leeds United aim to bounce back
After the Brighton debacle and no goals in four of their last five games it will be an under pressure Leeds United team that takes to the Elland Road pitch for what is a must not lose game against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
The Whites remain nine points above the relegation places, but with just one win in 11 games in the Sky Bet Championship they still have work to do to be safe from the drop and cannot afford to lose three points to the club that has been at the bottom of the division for much of the season.
Against a backdrop of financial concerns, Bolton have only won four league games and not won on their travels, but they will be fancying breaking their duck at Leeds with the way the Whites have been playing at home.
United’s performance record against sides below them this season has been poor and their lack of goals makes them a sitting duck for any of their opponents.
But against that, Leeds did beat Bolton in the FA Cup at the end of January and they could be boosted by the return of top scorer Chris Wood.
Wood has not been a runaway success in his first season at the club, but has been much missed in his injury absence, having only made two brief appearances in the last 12 matches.
He is on the mend now and with goals desperately needed the New Zealand forward is in contention for a place at the weekend.
If he is passed fit it will be interesting to see who is dropped for him and whether he is asked to play as a lone frontman or whether Souleymane Doukara will partner him up front.
With Wood back it would certainly give Leeds more options tactically and they could simplify things by going back to a 4-4-2, but to do that would want Stuart Dallas back fit after he missed the Brighton game.
Defensively, following the poor show at Brighton, it will be a surprise if Giuseppe Bellusci is not recalled at centre-back after completing his two match suspension.
He was in good form prior to picking up his tenth booking of the season at Watford and will want to pick up where he left off.
Despite speculation earlier this week Steve Evans will remain in his job as Leeds United head coach for Saturday’s clash after owner Massimo Cellino told Sky that he would not sack him.
Evans’ future as first-team boss was placed in doubt after Cellino left the Amex at half-time with Leeds trailing by four goals and ordered his head coach not to speak to the media afterwards.
United’s assistant, Paul Raynor, was interviewed by Sky Sports at full-time but Leeds refused to carry out further media duties and neither Raynor nor Evans attended the post-match press conference.
Cellino, who has already replaced five previous head coaches in his two-year reign as owner of Leeds, has now given Evans his backing, confirming that the former Rotherham United boss will be in charge for the Bolton game.
Evans has a deal to the end of the season and he claimed last week that he and Cellino would finalise a fresh contract for the 2016-17 campaign once United were safe from relegation.
But Cellino told Sky: “In the last few weeks he’s been talking too much about his future, about his contract, his players. He has to focus.
“We have players missing and we are in an emergency but instead of complaining you should just focus. But it’s not just about the coach.”