Evans out to motivate Leeds United for return to New York

The final run-in to the 2015-16 season starts on Saturday with Leeds United looking to show they are not simply coasting to the end of the campaign.

Wednesday, 30th March 2016, 12:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2016, 1:21 pm
Chris Wood, back in action for a starting place for Leeds United.

Former United player Noel Whelan, who now watches all the Whites’ games as a popular radio and newspaper pundit, has accused the players of simply marking out time until their holidays with seemingly little at stake with the 4-1 collapse against Huddersfield Town used to back up his belief.

But they can quash that talk if they produce an all together more committed display in another Yorkshire derby that greets the beginning of their nine-match run-in this Saturday.

It will be an emotional day for head coach Steve Evans as he makes his first return to the New York Stadium since leaving his job as Millers manager early this season and he will certainly not want to be on the losing side.

With one defeat to Rotherham already on his record, albeit somewhat revenged by an FA Cup win over the Millers, Evans should have his players pumped up for what will be an interesting match to say the least with former Leeds boss Neil Warnock in the opposion dugout.

Warnock, as well as Rotherham, will be going for a double over the Whites, as he was in charge earlier this season when QPR beat Leeds at Loftus Road.

He has got the Millers going after being given the task of keeping them up in the Sky Bet Championship and after looking dead and buried just a month ago they are on a run of four wins and an incredible comeback draw in their last five games going into Saturday’s match.

They are out of the bottom three and know a second win over Leeds can go a long way to securing their status.

The Whites still need a few points to be safe themselves and try again to hit the magical 50 mark after so spectacularly failing to do so in their previous Yorkshire derby.

Evans has a few team selections to make, but is expected to recall midfielders Toumani Diagouraga and Lewis Cook after he took stick for putting them on the bench for the Huddersfield game.

Up front, fit again Chris Wood could come in at the expense of either Mirco Antenucci or Souleymane Doukara while at the back another big decision awaits on which two centre-backs are given the nod after disappointing displays by Sol Bamba and Giuseppe Bellusci in the last game.

Liam Cooper, fresh from his first-ever full international duty with Scotland, will be the beneficiary should Evans decide on a change.

United are also in action next Tuesday when back at home to take on fellow mid-table side QPR.

This will see the return to Elland Road of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who enjoyed two hugely prolific scoring years as a player at Leeds and is these days the manager of the London club.

After a difficult start with Rangers he appears to be pulling them round and their recent record of one defeat in their last seven games has taken them clear of any relegation danger.

United, meanwhile, have been well represented during the international break, with Stuart Dallas (Northern Ireland), Liam Cooper, Liam Bridcutt (both Scotland), Lewis Cook (England under 19s) and Mustapha Carayol (Gambia) all representing their countries.