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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


November 30: Is it worth speculating about who will be playing for Leeds on Saturday? Well, Batts won't - but he's confirmed that he's over the worst and will be ready to play in a reserve game or two before the end of the year. But will we see Harry Kewell at all? With the game in Rome coming up next Tuesday, and with only 45 minutes of football under his belt this season, it might be an idea to give him 15 minutes or so and then unleash him on the Italians next week. But I'm not manager, so I happily bow to whatever DOL decides is best for the young star. For Leicester, Darren Eadie is the latest addition to their own injury list - he'd been one of the favorites to replace Trevor Benjamin. Speaking of Lazio, they came from behind to beat Udinese 2-1 in the Italian Cup last night - their first win in 3 weeks coming after Udinese had two players sent off, so quite how much morale has been boosted isn't clear.

November 30: After their 3-1 victory over Millwall, the Youth team will face Southampton at home in the next round of the FA Youth Cup in a tie to be played early in the New Year.

November 30: More realistic Leeds transfer story. Two clubs have come in with a bid for Robert Molenaar - one is offering enough for Leeds to allow him to talk personal terms. Bradford are one of the two - but it's not clear if they're the ones who are matching our valuation.

November 30: Best Leeds transfer story since the Fotherby days. Ronaldo to come to Leeds on loan! As if we'd drop Smithy and Viduka to let in some crocked South American.

November 29: Trevor Benjamin has been ruled out of Saturday;s game after surgery on a hand injury. Arnar Gunnlaugsson is looking favorite to replace Benjamin after an injury lay-off of his own.

November 29: Random transfer speculation. We want Robbie Keane, Benni McCarthy, Francis Jeffers. However, Keane was quoted as saying "I love the Italian way of life...why should I leave?" so he'll be out in the next fortnight then. Lack of first team football/no obvious future at the club could account for Matthew Jones and Robert Molenaar respectively, with Blackburn and Bradford being the focus of these rehashed rumours. Bradford were linked with Big Bob earlier in the season, but the injury to David Wetherall means that there's a gaping hole at the back of their defence, and Molenaar could be the man to fill it.

November 29: Good performance from the youth team at Millwall last night to come from behind to win 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup. Most impressive players for Leeds were number 3 and number 10, who - according to the photocopied team sheet - were Frazer Richardson and Jamie McMaster. Millwall did quite well early on but tired after an hour, and once Leeds had equalised there was only ever going to be one winner.

November 29: We are at war with Eurasia, we always have been at war with Eurasia.... Yep, a fine bit of Doublespeak from DOL resulted inevitably in Harry starting the reserve game at Villa last night. The reserves lost their second match in a row, going down to a first half penalty - but Huckerby had the chance to square it in the second with a penalty of our own, but saw it saved by the keeper. Harry and Stephen McPhail both got 45 minutes under their belts and it's anyone's guess if we'll see them in some shape or form on Saturday. Apparently Harry's not suffered any ill-effects and things are looking good for a long-term comeback before Christmas.

November 28: The YEP shed some light on all the reports on sightings of Rio in Leeds over the past year. Apparently there's a 13-year-old Leeds schoolboy, Khalum Farrell, who is a dead ringer for our new star signing and he's been approached for autographs on numerous occasions over the past few months. Might be useful to sign the lad up so we can use him to fool the opposition some time...

November 28: Leeds and Arsenal are in the clear over any off-the-field incidents alleged to have happened after Sunday's game with ref Dermot Gallagher not including them in his report. However the FA will be reviewing the two contentious incidents involving Patrick Vieira on video. I've not seen any of the replays, so I can't comment on what the slow-motion camera revealed, but Leeds didn't seem keen to press charges, and I hope Vieira's case is reviewed on the evidence rather than reputation - we've got a couple of players who would benefit from the same consideration if the places were reversed.

November 28: Rio trained with the squad for the first time today, on a day when it was rumoured that Chelsea made a late offer of £20 million for him using their windfall from the sale of Tore Andre Flo to Rangersi, but Rio decided that joining Leeds - and DOL - would be a better move for his career at this stage.

November 28: Harry Kewell will not turn out for the reserves this evening after all. DOL hinted at the weekend that he wanted Harry to slow his comeback down a little, and the club seem to be operating a sensible policy in not over-stretching our star player, but rather making sure he's not likely to break down before forcing him into a competitive match.

November 27: Leeds won Team of the Year, DOL was Manager of the Year and Alan Smith was Player of the Year at the BBC North sports awards. Cue sustained whinging about pro-Leeds bias from Sheffield, Bradford,...

November 27: The U-17s went down 6-1 at Blackburn at the weekend. Remember there's the Youth Cup game at Millwall on Tuesday night - there'll be a few of us meeting up in the Shipwrights Arms on Tooley Street before hopping on a train from London Bridge to make the 7:30 kick-off at the New Den - come and join us!

November 27: Juan Veron might make an amazing return from his fractured leg for the Leeds game next week. Lazio president Cragnotti rubbished weekend reports that Sven Goran Erickson was close to being fired, despite poor results and serious discontent among the fans.

November 27: Carlton Palmer was arrested on a drink-driving last night after his car hit a minicab near his home in South Yorkshire.

November 27: Greenock Morton's 18-year-old striking star Stevie Whalen is due to come down to Leeds for a week's trial. Interest in the young Scot is less glorified than some others we've been linked with (Watford and Norwich are mentioned) but he could be a bargain buy and might be a useful squad player or more in the future. Half of the Norwegian duo we had on trial has done himself no favours by getting picked up by the police for being drunk in a pub in Bergen. Azar Karadas are unlikely to face legal sanction, but the club will almost certainly dish out some punishment - and whether DOL and PR will want another nightclub-related incident to contemplate is doubtful.

November 27: Internazionale have said that Robbie Keane will not be released, despite rumours of Leeds and Villa both putting in bids of £10 million plus. Inter's new manager Marco Tardelli is less of a fan of Keane than his predecessor, but the club will probably look to loan him out to another Serie A club when the Italian transfer window opens in January.

November 27: It transpires that Rio waived a bonus of up to £2 million that he - or his advisers - reckoned he was entitled to from West Ham. Well, it's nice to be able to kiss that sort of cash goodbye - and I'm sure there'll be plenty more where that came from.

November 27: Arsenal will be automatically fined £25,000 for getting 6 players booked (well, it was 7, but the fine cuts in at 6). The FA will wait for Dermot Gallagher's report before deciding if further action will be taken after alleged incidents in the tunnel after the game. Gallagher has played down the troubles, but Robert Pires has accused DOL of pulling faces at him, which apparently upset him so much he wanted to cry (maybe I made that last bit up). Olivier Dacourt and Patrick Vieira are still friends after Dacourt had a faceful of Vieira's studs when the Arsenal man fell in a challenge. The FA video review committee may still find themselves looking at a Vieira incident though - the head-to-head with Eirik Bakke certainly merits a bit more discussion.

November 26: Peter Ridsdale dampened down the speculation that we were going to go in for Robbie Keane - but did indicate that there were other players out there that we were still interested in and that there was still some money in the kitty to buy them if the opportunity arose.

November 26: It was a bad day for our next CL opponents as Lazio went down 2-0 at Parma, leaving their fans chanting for Sven Goran Erickson's head.

November 26: David Batty came through a full training session yesterday and is on target for a post-Christmas comeback.

November 26: Incredible! In a game which saw 7 Arsenal players booked, Patrick Vieira wasn't one of them. Olivier Dacourt was Leeds' only transgressor, and his deflected free kick just short of the hour mark made the difference between two sides who both needed the points - and who both hit the woodwork and failed to take advantage of all their chances. Rio was marched out onto the pitch beforehand with his number 29 shirt (chosen cos he'll be earning that much per week) and was cheered - but then told to get off the pitch. We don't want our biggest ever signing getting pneumonia! At the press conference, Rio said: "The price doesn't bother me a bit. It's probably more of a dilemma to you lot than me. All I'm concerned about is playing well and I will leave the figures to the money men. If I'm honest, the hardest thing was leaving London. But it's only a flight, car ride or train journey home and this is too good an opportunity to miss." He's obviously not that well acquainted with GNER :-)

November 26: Eirik Bakke looks set to return this afternoon after recovering from a calf injury, and Jason Wilcox is also looking likely to start the game. The big shock could come at left back, where Ian Harte may be relegated to the bench to make way for Dominic Matteo, whose performances have been a lot more solid than the Irishman's - but Harte's dead ball prowess and incisive running (when he's on form) would be missed.

November 26: Jon Woodgate reckons that Leeds are paying an "obscene" amount of money for Rio - but reckons he's worth it. "He's a class act, good in the air, good in attack, reads the game well, he's young and he's good on the ball, which is what defenders need." DOL will be hoping that Rio and Woody will form a good partnership at the back that - with the addition of Paul Robinson in goal - could be seen as the first choice defence for England. Rio passed his medical yesterday afternoon and should be unveiled as a Leeds player prior to the Arsenal game.

November 26: JFH found himself on the end of yet another red card yesterday for use of the elbow in an off-the-ball incident with Michael Ball as Chelsea went down to yet another away defeat.

November 25: Rio has jetted in to Leeds, to be met by Peter Ridsdale and delivered to the Leeds physio's clinic to be put through his paces and confirm that he's not going to break down and that the injury he suffered earlier this season hasn't had any lasting ill-effects.

November 25: Doug Ellis has criticised Leeds and Peter Ridsdale for breaking an informal agreement between the Premier League clubs that was made during the summer to try to keep a cap on transfer fees. Ellis - whose £8.5 million offer for Benni McCarthy wasn't exactly an example of restraint - reckons that he will now have to follow if Villa are to compete.

November 25: Reports from Spain linked Leeds with a move for Levante's African star Felix Ettien. The Spanish club's president Pedro Villarroel said that the left-sided Ivory Coast midfielder was in line for a move at the end of the season with a fee of £3.5 million being mentioned.

November 25: The club have taken out a new advertisement - on the 16-foot banner of the Hunslet supporters club. The banner has featured prominently in recent European away games and will now sport the Leeds Lotto logo.

November 25: With the Rio deal waiting for i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed, the player has turned to the ever-so-dynamic PFA to help him negotiate his cut of the money from the move. Strange decision - Hauge and co may not always come across as the most savoury characters around, but given the choice between them and Gordon Taylor's mob, I know who I'd want to be bargaining on my behalf. Jaap Stam has warned Rio not to think about the fee, and not to expect the easiest of rides after his record-breaking move. When Stam joined Manchester United, it took him some time to settle down, and many people were questioning Ferguson's decision to spend over £10 million on him: now he's unquestionably one of - if not the - top centre back in the Premier League."I hope that the critics who gave me such a terrible time when I arrived in England are not so quick to judge Ferdinand," he said. Speaking of large piles of cash, this deal will take DOL's transfer spending to £64.3 million with a net deficit of over £40 million over the last two years. That's a lot of money and a lot of faith from the board - we've got to start seeing that faith justified with silverware soon.

November 25: Lazio supremo Sergio Cragnotti may move to solve England's problems by giving Sven Goran Erickson the boot if they fail to take 3 points from Leeds on Tuesday week. The Corriere dello Sporte reports that Cragnotti is unhappy with the team's recent performances, and the defeat at Anderlecht in particular and could move VP Dino Zoff in to take charge of the squad.

November 24: Peter Lorimer is looking forward to Rio's arrival at Elland Road. He reckons - and we all hope - that DOL's 700-odd games as a top-class centreback have given him an insight into just how good he could be in the right side. "Leeds can look forward to a decade of football from him. The manager is trying to build a squad of players who are all about the same age and can grow together rather than bring in the old pros who will give him a couple of years at most, and in that respect Ferdinand fits the profile perfectly."

November 24: Today's transfer targets: Robbie Keane and John Arne Riise (yawn!). And Kevin Phillips (Zzzzz!). PR is being cagey about who/what sort of player is next - but you can tell he's bursting to tell the world who he's going to try to get on board, but remembers the infamous World Travels of Bill Fotherby episode from 5 or so years ago. Providing he doesn't come back with another Brolin, he can talk 'em up all he wants...

November 24: Team news for Sunday: Olivier Dacourt returns from suspension, Eirik Bakke is still struggling against an injury, and the return to fitness of Jason Wilcox could leave DOL with an interesting decision to make on who would be shuffled onto the bench. Gary Kelly, Ian Harte and Danny Mills will all be hoping to be the one who avoids dropping to the bench. For Arsenal David Seaman continues his absence through injury - maybe John Lukic will return after Alex Manninger picked the ball out of the net 4 times on Wednesday. Gilles Grimandi and our old friend Patrick Vieira will be missing too, so Smithy will have to find someone else to wind up. Arsene Wenger will no doubt get the chance to tell DOL and PR to their faces that he thinks that Leeds are "crazy" to spend £18 million in the current environment, saying that he wouldn't look to pay more than £5 million for anyone right now.

November 24: Lucas Radebe has been awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award for this year for his on-pitch performances, for his commitment to the fight against racism in football, and particularly for the work he has done for children back home in South Africa. He'll receive his award at the FIFA World Player Gala in early December.

November 24: Damien Lynch should be heading back to Huddersfield to continue his trial shortly. Lynch was recalled after the injuries piled up, but Lou Macari wants him back to take a longer look after Lynch impressed in the one reserve game he played when he was there last.

November 24: So it's on. Or off. Or on. Rio is happy and wants to come. Or he's uncertain. The financial details are sorted. Or not - with the inevitable "loyalty" bonus gap of £1.5 million between what Rio and his chums think he's owed and what West Ham are prepared to pay. He's supposedly lined up to come up to Leeds for a medical tomorrow, with maybe a signing pre-match on Sunday. Or not - Harry Redknapp reckons the deal is done and dusted but some reports today expressed doubts about it. Peter Ridsdale said: "He wants to go right to the top with us, fill his sideboard with medals and trophies won in Leeds United's name and appear in World Cups for England as a Leeds United player." Rio has been in London all his life, and with West Ham throughout his playing career, so it would be a big leap for him. The deal will look to keep Rio at Leeds through to the end of the 2005-2006 season, and will given him an "average" weekly pay packet of £50,000 when the various bonuses and increases are taken into consideration, but he'll start on much less than that.

November 23: Carlton Palmer has handed in a transfer request at Cov - apparently the travelling between his Sheffield home and the Midlands is just too much for the poor thing, and he now wants a move to somewhere closer to home. Well, we could do with a defensive midfielder.... (only kidding).

November 23: The YEP have jumped on the bandwagon and they ran it at the game last night, so I might as well join in. The great John Charles deserves some formal recognition for his contribution to British soccer in general - his performances in Italy in the 50s did much to enhance the overall reputation of British players abroad. Now, a fan is trying to get the 68-year-old knighted for his services to the game - mail Matthew Knowles at knightjohncharles@yahoo.co.uk and add your support - tell your friends and get them to do the same.

November 23: If we give West Ham a huge pile of cash, they could look to spend some of it on Rigobert Song. The Camerounian is out of favour at Anfield after the arrival of Ziege and Babbel and would be available for around £2.5 million. Why don't we buy him instead? Last year we spent a bundle on Hucks so that Cov could spend a couple of million more on Robbie Keane: they doubled their money and we ended up with a benchwarmer!

November 23: Oh G*d it's the Phillips rumour again - run for your lives everyone! Peter Reid has blown his top with Peter Ridsdale for allegedly trying to poach his top scorer. Ridsdale more or less told him to shut up and not be so stupid. The tabloids are linking us with all and sundry as we desperately try to unload our cash pile on unsuspecting clubs.

November 23: The reserves lost their 100% record tonight, going down 1-0 at Sunderland. Darren Huckerby, Jason Wilcox and Robert Molenaar featured in the side, and Stephen McPhail came on as a sub as the team tried to pull back a 20th minute goal by Stefan Schwarz. Harry Kewell's minor setback in training meant that he didn't play - and bearing in mind the conditions - freezing fog - at New Ferens Park, it's just as well. Harry could make an appearance against Villa on November 28 while we're all watching Da Yoof at Millwall.

November 23: So with PR actually coming down to London to talk to Rio and his agents (including Rune Hauge unfortunately) DOL goes on record saying that no player is worth that sort of money. "I don't think any footballer, as my wife says, for kicking a silly white ball around, is worth that amount of money." If things work out - and in some quarters the word is that the money on offer is not enough (though he'd cite likelihood of regular Champions League football), but if Rio does decide to come, he'll be on for a medical tomorrow, but it would be pushing it to get him in the side to face Arsenal on Sunday.

November 23: Peter Ridsdale has indicated that Rio's transfer fee will be made up of an initial payment of £12 million followed by instalments for the balance depending on appearances. But Rio's personal wage requirements could still prove an obstacle - he can't be paid the same or more than Harry, Lee Bowyer and Mark Viduka, so if we pay him £50 grand a week, there's a few more people who'll be in line for a rise too.

November 23: Nigel Martyn could now be out until the start of next year. His original groin injury has been aggravated and he's now got a leg muscle problem, so it looks like a longer run for Robbo.

November 23: Lucas Radebe was more than a little unimpressed with Luis Figo last night. The skipper thought the Madrid player should have received a second yellow for persistent diving and delaying free kicks, but thought that the ref had bottled out of sending off the world's most expensive player. From where I was sat, I couldn't agree more - masterful sulking, but an almost totally insignificant contribution to the game when compared with McManaman and Makalele.

November 22: Reaction to tonight's game: DOL admits we were outclassed."You have got to hold your hands up in football and tonight we were beaten by the better team. We were outclassed." But he also pointed out: "In the last group we got hammered in the first game and bounced back and now we have got to do that again." Vicente Del Bosque was understandably pleased - particularly with Steve McManaman's performance. "The way we played was excellent. We had great shape and when we were in front of goal we took our chances well. Leeds put us under pressure in the first half but we managed to take control in the second half and we also took our chances."

November 22: Rio Ferdinand will travel to Leeds tomorrow to nail down contract details and issues with Peter Ridsdale. If he goes by GNER he'll be so tired and confused that he'll probably sign anything by the time he gets there, so let's get him on that train! Peter Ridsdale is pleased we've got this far with the signing and must now persuade the youngster to join Leeds rather than go elsewhere. Ridsdale said: "Often in the past we have been criticised for not backing the desires of managers with money. Even before Ferdinand comes into the equation we have spent £46m on players in the two years that David O'Leary has been in charge. That is also testimony to the belief we have in David's qualities as a manager. There is some work to do before Rio becomes a Leeds player. He is a London boy who lived with his parents for a long time and has been with the same club since he was 12. But the biggest steps forward are that the fee has been agreed and that we have permission to talk to him."

November 22: Elsewhere in Europe, Lazio went down 1-0 to Anderlecht, with Stankovic sent off late on, so he'll miss the next game. Arsenal crashed 4-1 in Moscow after taking an early lead against Spartak.

November 22: A disappointing result, but a pretty decent game. Leeds showed a lot of talent and spirit, and absorbed a lot of pressure from the European Champions, but created more than a few chances of their own. The real pity was how sloppy the goals were, but there was a real atmosphere in the ground for once, and some very leg-weary players did their best to respond. They'll have learnt a lot from this experience - let's hope the lessons start being applied on Sunday!

November 21: Okay, I'll resurrect Rio for one moment. The official West Ham website carries an interview with Harry Redknapp in which he says that he's reluctantly agreed to an offer of £18 million for Rio from Leeds. This is a world record for a defender and a British record for any player. Redknapp revealed that he'd finally said yes after Leeds stuck a further £3 million on top of the existing offer, which tipped the balance with the current uncertainty about the transfer system. Rio is now discussing it with his parents and his agent - the move might not happen if he doesn't think it's right for him. If he chooses to move, he could be appearing against Arsenal on Sunday, but he won't be eligible to appear in the Champions League until the games in the New Year.

November 21: In tonight's Champions League games there were 3-1 victories for Man U and Deportivo. Valencia continued their impressive run in the competition with a 2-0 win over Sturm Graz, and AC Milan came back from a 0-2 deficit at home to draw with Galatasaray.

November 21: Harry Kewell's bride-to-be Sheree Murphy is due to be spending some time in jail. Or at least, that's the fate in store for her Emmerdale character as she'll be looking to take some time off to have the couple's first child in the spring.

November 21: Tempting fate (part 28 of 90). Danny Mills is looking forward to tomorrow's clash, but doesn't feel particularly worried about coming up against such an expensive and illustrious squad. "There's plenty with great reputations and you see bits and pieces of them in tournaments like the World Cup, but they're all just as good as each other. We know that Figo plays for Real Madrid and that he went there for £37 million. I'll possibly have the job of getting very close to him tomorrow, but we've played against Rivaldo, supposedly the greatest footballer in the world, and from what I saw it's hard to tell whether or not he deserves that tag." Yeah - any old donkey can hit the back of the net under intense pressure in the 94th minute of a game. Mills wasn't wearing totally rose-tinted lenses though: "Let's be realistic again and say that hopefully we won't lose. A draw would get us off to a positive start while obviously a win would be fantastic. We have to give it our best, and work as hard as we did in the three home matches in the first phase." Luis Figo gave us one of the traditional "of course we respect Leeds but" speeches on arrival in England. "This game represents one of our most serious challenges of the season. We have to play seriously against Leeds, and play well because it is vital for our future in the competition. The pressure will also be a factor, but I am confident we have the quality in the team to win this tie." I'm moderately hopeful we can get something out of this game - but it would be no disgrace to lose to the reigning European Champions, and it wouldn't blow away our chances of progressing in the group.

November 21: Those Rio rumours won't go away. More stories tonight that Leeds are very close to signing Ferdinand for a club record fee - and on club record wages. I've got a really bad feeling about this one - it's a hell of a lot of our cash pot to spend on one player with the EU still sticking its meddling nose into the transfer market. However, counter rumours say West Ham have not changed their minds about selling him, so he's staying put. To avoid repeating myself for the next month, I now declare this formally dead as a story until he actually does sign for us or for someone else.

November 21: The West Yorkshire Police have advised Leeds that the Man U home game should be scheduled for an early kick-off, so it will start at 11:30 on March 3 instead of 3:00. No doubt Sky will also be interested in this one. The reserves' clash with Villa will now switch to Tuesday 28 November to avoid a clash with the Champions League game at Lazio.

November 21: The FA would like to talk to DOL - but it's not about his well-justified criticism of a few recent refs. After he went on record complaining about the number and frequency of games his players face with the League, Europe and international matches, David Davies said: "We regard David O'Leary as an outstanding manager for whom we have the highest regard. The matters which he has expressed concerns about are clearly very important to him and we would like to discuss them with him." And tell him to shut up and buy more players if he wants to compete no doubt...

November 21: Dominic Matteo is the latest injury worry for tomorrow night, but he is more hopeful of playing than Eirik Bakke after both picked up injuries on Saturday.

November 21: Peter Ridsdale has played down the possibility of Harry Kewell returning in 2 weeks - but he does reckon that a pre-Christmas comeback is a possibility. But both Ridsdale and DOL pointed out that Harry has not played a proper game in 6 months, and it will take him time to get match fit. Harry will be in the reserve squad for Thursday's game at Sunderland, but isn't likely to get a full game just yet.

November 20: DOL has done a bit of a Fergie, coming out with a plea for more understanding for teams involved in European games. With only England and Spain retaining 20-team top divisions, DOL thinks it's time to cut that down - and lose some of the random international friendlies inserted into the schedule whenever there's a free slot. "I have to say we didn't have the best preparation for the game with so many players off on international duty," he complained. "Every time there is a gap in the club programme someone seems unable to resist sticking in an international match." DOL also pointed out how other clubs have their programmes rearranged by the national FAs to make life easier for them around the European games - both Lazio and Madrid had their games put back to Saturday with Wednesday matches due in midweek. "Now we play Lazio in Rome on a Tuesday (Dec 5) after playing at Leicester on Saturday, and then in March we fly out to play Real Madrid for a Tuesday game, with Manchester United the Saturday before." Both Leeds and Man U would probably be happy to shift that game back to Friday night, but they have no say in the matter, and the FA are reluctant to make any changes (not postponements - just a simple 1 day change).

November 20: Mark Viduka is looking forward to Wednesday's game and reckons Leeds could pull off a shock win. "It will be a different game on Wednesday night. I don't think Madrid will sit back like West Ham did - they need the points so they're going to look for goals....I'm very confident that we're going to do well against them."

November 20: We may or may not have upped the bid for Rio - Danny Hay's injury adding to the urgency no doubt. And the Phillips rumours are still wandering around knocking on doors and trying to find someone to take them in.

November 20: The U-19's beat Derby 1-0 at the weekend with a goal from Harpul Singh, but the U-17's went down 0-3 to the same opposition. Leeds Ladies had the big win though - running out 14-1 winners over Silsden Ladies in the West Riding County Cup.

November 20: Danny Hay will be out for a month after undergoing a hernia op. With Lucas a doubt after Saturday and Jon Woodgate not sure if he'll be fit in time, that could either leave Danny Mills being partnered by Robert Molenaar, or see Dominic Matteo, Ian Harte or Gary Kelly at centre back, with Matthew Jones or Jacob Burns (at least one of whom are certain to play with Eirik Bakke injured and Olivier Dacourt suspended) drafted into the full back position. It's a fortnight too soon for Harry Kewell, who is now fairly positive about targetting the Lazio game for a comeback and should have an outing for the reserves soon.

November 20: Steve McManaman sent out a warning to Leeds at the weekend, as Real Madrid won 1-0 away. Macca's cross was diverted past the keeper in their game with Villareal. Lazio eked out a 1-1 draw against Milan, and Anderlecht won 2-0 to stay 2nd in Belgium.

November 19: Eirik Bakke is doubtful for the Real game on Wednesday with a dodgy ankle sustained in Saturday's game. Poor form notwithstanding, with Olivier Dacourt out Bakke's presence in midfield would certainly help us stand up to the likes of Luis Figo (though maybe this will give Matthew Jones a chance). Lucas Radebe is also a slight doubt - which might explain his sub-par performance on Saturday when Kanoute gave him the run- around on more than one occasion.

November 19: Kevin Evans netted the equaliser for Cardiff today and made their second as they came back from a goal down to beat Bristol Rovers 5-1 in the FA Cup. Evans has switched to a midfield role since he moved, the Wales U-21 international has now scored 3 goals for Cardiff in the short time he's been there.

November 19: Michael Bridges is resigned to being out of action for the rest of the season as it looks like he's not making the necessary progress after his ankle op.

November 18: Elsewhere today, Gary Speed scored the first goal for Newcastle, but ended up on the losing side as Sunderland came from behind and Shearer had a penalty saved, and David Wetherall was carried off injured as Bradford slipped further into trouble with a 2-0 defeat by Derby.

November 18: DOL put today's loss down to tiredness (after a week in which we didn't have a game), but didn't detract from West Ham's performance. "I try to instill into my youngsters that when they do not play well they have to make sure they do not lose, but that advice was not heeded. That was the most disappointing thing because this was a game we did not deserve to lose, even though we gave away a poor, scrappy goal on the stroke of half time. It would be taking something away from West Ham's performance to say that we were thinking about Real Madrid, but that is not right because our desire is to do well in the Premier League, which is the most important thing. But you cannot run a Premier League and Champions League campaign with only 11 or 12 players and that is why we looked so tired today."

November 18: One of the worst performances by a Leeds side for some time. Really. And to concede a headed goal to Nigel Winterburn - who, at the age of 37, outreacted all of our defence - is doubly embarrassing. We had a couple of chances, but Ian Harte failed to hit the target with all but one of the free kicks and although the ref was once again responsible for some truly bizarre decisions, we shouldn't take away the fact that a well-organised - but injury-hit (no DiCanio and Cole) West Ham team did more than enough to justify taking the three points. Real Madrid have been well and truly lulled into a real sense of security (of course we will play 10 times better on Wednesday night...).

November 17: Norwegian transfer rumours part 86. Berit Riise reckons that Monaco and her son have been reconciled, and that the French club could be prepared to let him go. "It was a very positive meeting. We got a clarification of the situation, and Monaco said that they now would seriously consider all written offers. At the same time it seemed like they where willing to lower the price, compared to what they demanded from Leeds."

November 17: Alan Smith and Mark Viduka look to be clear to play against West Ham tomorrow after missing out on the international friendlies in the week. Jon Woodgate is more doubtful, but might be ready to face Real Madrid next Wednesday, and our other JW - Jason Wilcox - could be fit enough for a bench slot against West Ham. DOL was grateful that Peter Taylor accepted his reasons for pulling Smith out of the game against Italy. "Peter felt it was the right thing for England and for Leeds, and for the player himself, that Smithy did not blow a gasket before Christmas, and the few days off has done him the world of good." For Leeds fans, tomorrow will give us the chance to take a look at Rio Ferdinand and see if we think he's really worth £15 million quid. Frederic Kanoute went on record telling Joe Cole to ignore Paolo Di Canio's comments, and gossip yesterday was saying the volatile Italian could be on the move - maybe to Maine Road, but Harry Redknapp has tried to squash that rumour out of hand.

November 17: Juan Veron picked up an injury in an international against Chile this week which will rule the Argentinian out for some time - he's almost certain to miss Leeds' visit to Rome on December 5. Doesn't quite compare with Leeds on the "injury crisis" stakes though...

November 17: According to some sources, Peter Ridsdale has indicated that he might try to persuade Brann to let Azar Karadas and Thorstein Helstad return to Leeds for a second time next week. With the Norwegian season over, there's nothing to keep them over there - other than the need to get in some well-deserved rest and recuperation, so if Brann do need to sell them, they may relent and let the pair come over and play in a reserve game for DOL to see how good they really are. Brann, meanwhile, reckon that there's no chance of this and that contact with Leeds was broken after the two returned home, and that all the chat since then has been agent-speak. Watch this space...

November 17: Jamie McMaster and Frazer Richardson were on the bench but didn't make it onto the pitch in last night's 3-2 win over Belgium for England's U-18 side at Valley Parade last night.

November 17: In an incident that really sums up the season, Nigel Martyn has suffered a setback in his recovery. The Kangaroos were up at Thorp Arch, took a few penalties against Nige and he aggravated his groin strain. Looks like Paul Robinson will get a slightly longer run in the first team: just as well our backup keeper is such a talented bloke.

November 16: Prospects for signing our recent Norwegian triallists are looking varied. Azar Karadas was tried out in defence, and although he can play there prefers to play up front and might not be too happy with a move that made such a switch permanent. Thorstein Helstad was apparently in very good form during the training sessions and impressed DOL and fellow countryman Eirik Bakke, who feels that a move could be on the cards.

November 16: Reports today say that Preston are looking to sign one or other of Simon Grayson or Alan Maybury. Grayson enjoyed much more prominence after he left Elland Road, with stints at Villa Park and Filbert Street, before winding up at Blackburn, where he isn't in favour with new manager Graeme Souness. Maybury had a good stint on loan at Crewe recently, but they've not yet decided whether to try to acquire the Irishman permanently.

November 16: Joe Cole could come back from a 3 match injury lay-off in Saturday's game at Elland Road. Cole picked up an ankle injury following an horrendous challenge from Lomano Lua Lua in West Ham's game against ankle and has come through some training sessions, but is still feeling stiff.

November 16: Jason Wilcox spoke of how happy he was to be one the comeback trail and still have the prospect of playing in the Champions League. "Everybody wants to play in the Champions League, lads like me Harry Kewell, Stephen McPhail and David Batty - there's loads of us been out who are desperate to come back. Nobody expected us to do this well in the competition and I think the lads who have played have been unbelievable." But he's not unaverse to taking someone's place when the time comes :-) He also shed light on the injury he picked up just before the Barca game and why it's taken him so long to come back. "Having worked so hard to come back from my knee injury and feeling so good it was like a kick in the teeth when I did my ankle in training," he said. If anyone has a spare anatomy chart, please forward it to Jason Wilcox c/o Elland Road, with detailed instructions on how to differentiate between arse and elbow, and mouth and foot.

November 16: South Africa have requested the pleasure of Lucas Radebe's company for their World Cup qualifier against Liberia - which means he'll miss the game against Sunderland on December 16.

November 16: Da Yoof will be on show in London on Tuesday week. If anyone fancies a night out in Millwall, Leeds will be playing there in the FA Youth Cup - make the effort and see the stars of tomorrow today!

November 15: There's a little bit of dissent in the West Ham camp ahead of Saturday's game. Paolo Di Canio has waited for them to turn the corner on the form front before revealing that he thinks that Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand are nowhere near ready for an international call, and that the squad don't train as often or as hard as they should. No doubt Harry Redknapp will either drop him or give him such a hard kick up the backside he'll score a hat-trick at the weekend...

November 15: JFH half-heartedly brushed off talk of an imminent move to Barcelona after reports surfaced in the Catalan sports pages that they wanted to strengthen (!) their squad with Leeds' one-time hero. He's "not even thinking" about moving at the moment according to some reports. So expect to see him on the next EasyJet flight with a huge suitcase full of cash...

November 15: Stephen McPhail is hopeful of avoiding an operation and lengthy lay-off after undergoing some intensive treatment for his achilles injury. McPhail should be given the all-clear to resume light training shortly, but he's still a long way off playing for the first team again.

November 15: Some of the management and old boys will be in action in a charity match in Boston Spa on Sunday in aid of the Martin House children's hospice - a favorite charity of Noel Shuter, who ran a large part of the Youth Academy before his recent death.

November 15: Gary Kelly and Ian Harte filled the full-back slots in the first half of the Republic's game against Finland before being replaced at half-time as Mick McCarthy tried a couple of different combinations at the back. Steve Staunton rounded the game off nicely for the Irish, scoring with the last kick of the game to make the score 3-0.

November 15: Mark Viduka was pulled out of the Australian squad this afternoon after failing to pass a fitness test. The Socceroos went on to beat a Scotland XI including Dominic Matteo by a fairly comprehensive 2-0 margin.

November 15: Don't believe half of what you read and anything of what you hear. Jason Wilcox played in tonight's reserve game against Bradford at Bootham Crescent, and seemed to come through the game well. Darren Huckerby picked up a hat-trick, with Kevin Dixon also on target as Leeds won 4-1 to maintain their excellent record in the reserves league. Wilcox might now be in line for a place on the bench on Saturday. Leeds' reserve game at Sunderland - due to be played next Monday - will now take place on Thursday 23 November at New Ferens Park, KO at 7 p.m.. The game has been moved to ensure that nobody picks up an injury ahead of Leeds' Champions League game with Madrid on the Wednesday night.

November 14: With Stephen Carr injured, Gary Kelly gets a recall to the Ireland side for tomorrow night's friendly against Finland. All three friendlies tomorrow are on the three non-digital Sky Sports channels at 8ish, so you need to find yourself a sports bar with plenty of screens and get the beers in if you want to avoid RSI from channel-flipping on the remote.

November 14: The boys from Brann are heading home after their team refused them permission to play in the reserve game tomorrow. Brann are obviously hoping that DOL has seen enough to be tempted to buy them - but there are plenty of others interested (according to their agent) if Leeds don't bite.

November 14: Lee Dyson is to remain in hospital in Milan for a further week after being stabbed in Milan last week. Dyson was stabbed numerous times and has had two emergency ops, but is out of danger and just needs to recuperate a little more before he is moved.

November 14: Harry Kewell is the second Leeds player in two days to deliver good news on the injury front. He's now hopeful that he'll be back for Leeds before Christmas, though the one thing we can't afford to do is to rush him back and for him to break down again. Less good news from Jason Wilcox who was hoping to be back by the end of November, but he's not made the progress that both he and the physios were hoping for, and it could now be Christmas or the New Year before we see the winger return.

November 14: Australian national coach Frank Farina made it clear there was no rift between himself and DOL on Mark Viduka. "I think David O'Leary has concerns, quite rightly so, because he is very important for them at the moment. We will have a look at him with the physio and doctor. We'll consult with the club and a decision will most probably be made early on Tuesday or on the day of the game. David asked me to have a look at him because he was very concerned and he felt Viduka wasn't ready. But the player is coming up. It's always good to see players who are so keen to play for their country." So before I get more emails from Australians accusing DOL of being - well, several unprintables, let's say - and Leeds being - errr.. equally unprintable, please get your facts in order.

November 14: Azar Karadas and Thorstein Helstad are likely to play in the reserve match against Bradford on Wednesday after spending a few days training with Leeds and taking a look at the setup. The club are said to be in discussions with their agents and representatives of SK Brann, who will be looking at a fee of £5 million for the pair of Norwegian U21 stars.

November 13: Damien Lynch turned out for Huddersfield in a reserve match this afternoon. Lynch hasn't had much success at breaking through at the top level, and could be a usefully cheap acquisition for the Terriers to prop up their leaky defence with some youthful exuberance.

November 13: Frank Leboeuf (remember him - I think he may have been on a team that won something a while ago) warned Leeds about the effects a CL run could have on the League campaign - particularly for a team that ends up with a game in hand after playing in the qualifying round. "If you have a bad result, while Manchester United and Arsenal have a good one, then it looks worse. Even if you have two games in hand, it doesn't mean you have six points." Essentially he said that we weren't a bad squad but didn't have anything like the depth to win anything in Europe and simultaneously challenge at home. Harsh but fair...

November 13: Jon Woodgate met up with the Leeds Parish Church choir today to present them with a signed short to auction for funds for the choir school. At the risk of being judged over-cynical, hands up who expects to hear of the good work done with sick animals and orphans by Lee Bowyer and Michael Duberry over the next two months?

November 13: Batts has gone public with his recovery hopes. Despite the widely trailed info earlier this season that he wouldn't figure until next year, he's now managing to jog for half an hour and has taken part in some light games. He's now reasonably confident that he can make it back in time for the final set of Champions League games next year. It will certainly be interesting to see what DOL does when Batts - and Harry Kewell, Jason Wilcox and Michael Bridges - are fit and available for selection again.

November 13: International info: Alan Smith's ankle isn't that bad and he could play at a push in Italy, but DOL wants to rest him because he's knackered. Mark Viduka might actually make an appearance for Oz against Scotland - but it's unlikely he'll be ready to play the full game. "I definitely want to play. I love playing for my country, especially here in Scotland. It's a difficult situation at Elland Road because they have a lot of injuries. I love playing for Australia and I'm not the only player who has gone away to play in internationals." He could face Dominic Matteo, who is down to make his debut for Scotland, but there will be no opportunity to compare him against Scotland's new goal-scoring machine, Kenny Miller.

November 12: David Batty and Paul Ince are both worried that their international careers could be over. Although Batts is just 31, the new brooms of Peter Taylor and Steve Mclaren - and next year Sven Goran Erickson - look likely to go for the younger generation of players.

November 12: Alan Smith and Mark Viduka are both likely to miss their friendlies this week after picking up knocks against Chelsea. Viduka looked to be in a lot of pain after he picked up his knock, but managed to play on long enough to score before being subbed. For the last 10 minutes, Alan Smith was obviously feeling his leg, and DOL will want both to rest rather than play in Scotland and Italy this week.

November 12: Lucas Radebe was extremely happy after the game. Although he was booked for a nothing foul, he kept JFH quiet. "It was a tussle with Jimmy. I know what a quality striker he is so I had to be on my toes all the time. We knew when he came up against us he would want to prove us wrong but we had to keep it tight and make sure he didn't score." DOL was less happy, particularly since he felt that the free-kick that lead to the corner for Chelsea's goal should never have been awarded. "I'd better not say too much about the referee because I'm the one who gets into trouble if I do but there were some debatable decisions throughout the game. You tell me if it was a game of eight bookings." Claudio Ranieri was disappointed not to come away with the three points, but was pleased with the way his side responded to going behind: "Leeds seem to be in great form at the moment. I thought they would get tired after their hard game in Milan on Wednesday but instead they were always flying around like arrows."

November 12: A goal apiece at Chelsea is not a terrible result: despite their poor league form to date they have some excellent players and although it's hard not to consider this as two dropped points after Viduka's goal and a couple of close things/wasted chances from Bowyer, Smith and Dacourt, it's no worse than Man U and Arsenal have managed against the Blues this season. No surprises in the performance of the ref either: 4 cards to each side from Graham Poll is just what we expect from this whistle-happy individual. Both Lucas Radebe and Dennis Wise were very unlucky to be carded for the offences that brought them to Poll's attention, but Babayaro's elbow to the throat on Smith(?) looked worthy of more than the yellow, and I'll have to watch the tape to find out just what Poyet did that left Danny Mills on the floor in one attack. At least JFH didn't score.

November 12: DOL was in Paris yesterday: either he's being wildly optimistic and is considering who we might meet in the quarter-finals or he was checking someone out from PSG or Lyon.

November 11: Old player news: Richard Jobson moved back to Watford on loan from Manchester City this week, and Gary Speed got the equaliser for Newcastle against Leicester this afternoon. John Lukic once again kept a clean sheet for Arsenal - but since they failed to score and were playing Derby at home, it was just as well that he did.

November 11: Despite the problems he caused at Elland Road, Peter Ridsdale recommended JFH to Chelsea when MD Colin Hutchinson enquired about his suitability. Whether Ridsdale was looking to double-bluff Chelsea and get them to spend a huge pile of cash on a sulky star is not clear. Paul Robinson, named as Carling Young Player of the Month for October, is looking forward to the game, and is trying to put thoughts of next week's England game out of the way. "Our fans like it as well when we beat Chelsea and so do we. Although we realise we're going to have to keep Jimmy quiet. He definitely has the hardest shot I've ever seen - even with the side of his foot! You just have to deal with what comes at you."

November 11: Sven-Goran Eriksson is quaking in his boots over the prospect of facing Leeds with only the meagre talents of Diego Simeone and Hernan Crespo to his name. And Nedved, Baggio, Couto, Inzaghi, Salas... The future England manager said: "I was very impressed with Leeds when they drew in Milan in midweek, particularly the tactics used by David O'Leary but his side are physically strong and difficult to score against." If nowt else, the games against Lazio should give quite a few of the Leeds team a chance to stake a claim for an international call-up when Eriksson takes over.

November 10: A carefully-timed leak by Peter Ridsdale has shed some light on the JFH transfer ahead of Sunday's reunion. JFH and his agent kept on saying that it wasn't about the money when he left, but Ridsdale reveals that he offered to make Jimmy the best-paid player at the club with an offer of 10% of a £10 million plus transfer should he move on top of a wage packet of 22 grand a week. JFH also wanted to emphasise his star status by having a guarantee that we would remain the club's highest-paid player and asking for an additional personal bonus fund in addition to the pool shared by the team. Jon Woodgate is unlikely to start on Sunday, but said he'd always got on with the striker. "When Jimmy was here he was quality. I liked him. You have to know how to take Jimmy, but I took to him and he was spot-on." He added: "He scores goals wherever he goes and he's certainly one of the best finishers I've ever come across. In fact I would say he's the best. He has so much power." Hopefully his battery will be flat on Sunday.

November 10: DOL will be asking a favour of Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson after the tough Champions' League draw. Wenger's Arsenal got a win and a draw against Lazio in their group, and Man U beat Anderlecht 5-1 at OT but lost 1-2 away - and also lost to Real Madrid in last season's competition.

November 10: Dario Gradi is weighing up whether he can make a bid for Alan Maybury. Maybury was on the bench in Milan but hasn't figured in DOL's plans, and Gradi said that DOL asked him to make an offer on the Irishman. Gradi has to decide whether the limited amount of money he has will be best spent on a player who has had injury problems and not played much first team football, although he did nothing wrong while on loan.

November 10: Of our three opponents, we've only faced Anderlecht before, beating them 1-0 away (Bremner) and 3-0 at home (Jordan, Lorimer, McQueen) on the way to the 1975 European Cup Final. We played Lazio in Dublin in a pre-season tournament 2 years ago, winning on penalties after drawing 1-1 in normal time. Leeds have never faced Real Madrid - but of course Don Revie famously selected the all-white strip to echo Real's outfit when he took over.

November 10: Reaction from the bosses. Peter Ridsdale: "We said it would be a miracle to get this far and coming back on the plane we were all dreaming about playing Real Madrid and going back to Rome again after playing in the Olympic Stadium in each of the last two seasons - so we have got our wish." Real general manager Jorge Valdano: "The objective is to reach the quarter-finals but we will have to be careful not to fall the same way that Barca went against Leeds." Lazio chairman and goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff: "On paper maybe Lazio and Real are the best teams, but football is played on grass and anything can happen. Anderlecht have a great side and Leeds have some fantastic young players - I saw them play Milan and they impressed me."

November 10: Well, there you go. As exclusively revealed here yesterday, Leeds have been drawn in a group with Lazio, Real Madrid and Anderlecht. Sometimes when you're paranoid they really are out to get you, and UEFA didn't bother to disguise it this time as ManU get dumped into the easiest possible group and we get the most difficult. Still, I guess there's no pressure or major expectation on the team, so maybe we can squeeze the odd result out of the group. Most immediately, we're at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday week (adults £25, concessions £17, family packages £67 on sale from Monday to Season Ticket holders and Striker Card holders), followed by a visit to Lazio on December 5, with the remaining 4 games played in February and March. By the time the second batch of games come round, we should be a lot stronger with the return of Harry Kewell, Jason Wilcox and Michael Bridges, so maybe we aren't such outsiders after all.

November 09: DOL couldn't resist one dig at Barcelona after Leeds progressed at the Catalan club's expense. "I'd like to know what Frank de Boer has to say for himself after the go he had at Alan Smith. I thought they did really well, Barcelona. I'm really pleased. I hope they enjoy the UEFA Cup." Peter Ridsdale was equally happy. "If you look at the squad we've got and the players we have missing, then we're going to be a team to be reckoned with in Europe and in the Premiership as the season progresses. What we have achieved is nothing short of fantastic and as chairman of Leeds I've dreamed of a day like this. It has taken many clubs years of trying to get through to the second group phase, but we've done it at the first attempt, and after nobody gave us a chance when the draw was made."

November 09: 19-year-old defender Jason Lanns will go to Oldham on a trial for a couple of weeks. He's not going to be allowed to turn out for the first team, but may have a couple of outings for the reserves.

November 09: In the great tradition of agents everywhere, Rune Hauge has been talking up his pair of young Norwegians to the rafters. Apparently Leeds will need to move quickly and pull out all the stops to sign them, and we'll have to fight off a dozen other clubs with a point-ed stick. Helstad is Norway's top scorer, and there have been conflicting signals from club and agent over which of the pair is the focus of Leeds' interest. Despite what Hauge says, the Brann management is adamant that only Leeds are being considered - for the development of the players' careers apart from anything else. Meanwhile the rumours connecting Leeds with - well, anyone really - intensified with the prospect of another cash bonanza from Europe. Kieron Dyer was seen at Elland Road recently, but allegedly thinks that Newcastle are a bigger club - so he's obviously too stupid for us to sign. And West Ham might just accept the money for Rio - once they're clear of relegation (which will be far too late for us this season and by which time the whole transfer mess might be sorted out and we'll get him for a fiver). Peter Ridsdale has made it clear to DOL, the fans and the Stock Exchange that the money from the Champions League run would be used to strengthen the squad - but nobody is setting any firm timeframes here.

November 09: Alan Smith and Paul Robinson have been named in Peter Taylor's squad for the friendly against Italy.

November 09: The "pots" for tomorrow's draw have been defined, and we're now a bit closer to knowing who we're going to face. From Pot 1, one of Real, Bayern or Valencia, from Pot 2 one of Deportivo, Anderlecht or Sturm Graz, and from Pot 3, one of Lazio, Spartak Moscow or PSG. Valencia, Sturm Graz and Spartak or PSG would do nicely, but our recent experience with Euro-draws would suggest that Real, Anderlecht and Lazio are more likely.

November 09: One more positive thing from tonight: hints from UEFA are that England could have earned a 4th place for next season's Champions League (another play-off place like the one Leeds had this year) because all three teams have qualified for the last 16. This could be extremely handy, since it might mean that the 5th and 6th placed teams get a UEFA Cup place, so if we don't manage to keep up our league form we'll still have a great chance of a European fallback.

November 09: The stabbed Leeds fan has been named as 31-year-old Lee Dyson. Hospital authorities say he should make a full recovery.

November 09: Barca president Joan Gaspart claimed he was "disappointed" with the Milan, who - he claimed - "could only draw when their honour was at stake". Did he watch the game, or was he watching Barca hammer BJK? From where I was sitting, Milan gave us a pretty tough workout, and neither UEFA nor Barca can complain at the competitiveness of the game. DOL was naturally chuffed: "We have since learned a great deal from a tough group and now all I can say is that we have put out one of the biggest clubs in the world in Barcelona. I am just so happy and so proud of my players and everybody at the club and I am delighted for all the supporters, and in particular my chairman."

November 08: So, that's Leeds plus the following 15 teams: Real Madrid, Spartak Moscow, Arsenal, Lazio, Valencia, Olympique Lyon, Sturm Graz, Galatasaray, Deportivo La Coruna, Panathinaikos, Bayern Munich, Paris St Germain, Anderlecht, Manchester United and AC Milan. Leeds, as a 2nd-placed team, will be drawn with two of the first-placed teams (which must be from of Real Madrid, Valencia, Sturm Graz, Deportivo, Bayern or Anderlecht, since Leeds will not face Milan again or Arsenal), plus one of the remaining second-placed teams - other than Man U). Or at least that's how I think Friday's draw is supposed to work - you never can tell with UEFA. Sturm Graz, Deportivo and Lyon would do just fine - it would be nice to have an "easy" draw for once. There will be two second stage games before Christmas - November 21/22 and December 5/6.

November 08: Milestone time: tonight's match was Gary Kelly's 300th game and Ian Harte's 150th. Lucas is three games shy of his double century - which he will achieve in the first game of the next phase of the Champions League if he turns out against Chelsea and West Ham in the next two games.

November 08: I've not yet stopped shaking and I'm totally out of fingernails. The 22 minutes after Milan equalised were horrifyingly tight, but somehow Leeds held on for a magnificent draw in the San Siro and after 2 long minutes of injury time, the celebrations started in earnest. We're in the last 16, we've got a big pile of cash coming in and 6 more games against great teams coming up. Great goal from Matteo, some good work by Robinson and another immensely hard-working performance from Marko and Smiffy up front. Slightly shaky work at the back from Gary Kelly and Lucas on his return, and ever so slightly anonymous outing for Eirik Bakke again. But what can I say - a great team performance. Over the moon Des.

November 08: AC Milan have threatened to sue various tabloids in the UK in which the Barca "bribe" stories have been printed. They'd best forget it: they've all been very careful to quote and use all the sort of words that make it clear they are reporting another story first carried elsewhere (in the Catalan press), and Milan would have no chance of making any charges stick. The Milan players were not impressed by the coverage, Shevchenko saying: "We need no incentive to beat Leeds."

November 08: Peter Ridsdale made it clear that the fan who was stabbed was a member of the supporters club, but that the attack was not football-related. "He isn't the sort of individual you would associate with getting into trouble whatsoever, so this isn't an issue about someone misbehaving. It is one of those incidents which regrettably took place late at night in a city centre and I stress, to the best of our knowledge, isn't football related." Ridsdale also made it clear that the reputation of Leeds fans and English fans in general was on the line and that close attention would be paid to any trouble that may occur.

November 08: An unnamed Leeds fan was stabbed in Milan last night. He's stable but critical in hospital and has not yet been able to describe his assailants to the police. Another Leeds fan was arrested following a separate disturbance and is due to face the courts today.

November 08: Jon Woodgate was hopeful ahead of tonight's game, and pointed back to the aftermath of the hammering at the Nou Camp. "I had to sit it out with injury and watch the match on television at home, but Smithy said "We'll qualify from this group. You just watch." That's what the Leeds spirit is all about. If you go into matches thinking you can't win then you won't. Simple as that. You have got to be strong mentally as well as physically." Lots of strength needed for tonight Jon...

November 07: UEFA have reiterated that they'll only investigate claims of cash inducements if given concrete evidence. Another UEFA official said it would be a great shame if Barca went out. I'm sure the two statements are unconnected. Meanwhile, the Leeds squad are set to pick up bonuses of £25,000 a man if they qualify for the next stage.

November 07: It looks like we could get our two Norwegians after all. With Brann Berger struggling to stay afloat, Azar Karadas and Thorstein Helstad have been invited to meet DOL and Peter Ridsdale when they return from Milan on Thursday. Leeds have been linked with both players in the last year and have watched both in the Norwegian U21 team, but Karadas in particular wanted to stay a little longer at Brann to hone his skills and repay their faith in him. Now it looks like the striker/centreback and right-winger could find that the best way to repay their club is to come to Leeds and turn on the style in training and trial games over the next week or so. West Ham and Sunderland are also reportedly interested, but Leeds looks to be the destination preferred by the players - for its professionalism and prospects - and by Brann - for the pile of cash that will hopefully get even bigger after tomorrow night.

November 07: Transfer randomness: we want Kieron Dyer from Newcastle for £10 million ("in your dreams!" says Bobby Robson), and Robert Molenaar might try to move before the end of the season when he'd be eligible for a Bosman just to get some games in: Bradford are the latest in the frame (but whether he'd sign when there's no manager there is another question).

November 07: Mark Viduka has (unsurprisingly) been picked for Australia to play Scotland on November 15. The game is sandwiched between Chelsea away and West Ham at home, but Viduka will relish the chance to appear for his country in front of many of the fans who cheered him on last season.

November 07: Lucas Radebe has declared himself fit for tomorrow night's clash in the San Siro. All he now needs to know is who will be partnering him, with Jon Woodgate still uncertain of being able to start - but Danny Mills looks like a better bet. No real depth up front though, with Darren Huckerby still missing. Reffing the game will be Kim Milton Nielsen who is best known to English fans for sending off David Beckham in France '98 - but he does have a bit of a reputation for being free with the red card, with Thierry Henry a victim for Arsenal last season. He does have a mild sense of humour though - when recent rumours of Barca bungs were put to him, he said: "I certainly won't be doing Barcelona, or any other club any favours and I can assure you I haven't been offered any new Seat cars!" The bookies strongly favour Milan, with Leeds 5-1 outsiders, but the draw is on offer at 6-4 or 13-8, which might not be bad value in the circumstances. The final word goes to DOL: "Our fate is now in our hands. We know we have nothing to lose."

November 06: Olivier Dacourt will be hoping to throw off his San Siro jinx: he's played there twice before for Strasbourg and lost both times. Now is the time for all good Leeds fans to come to the aid of the party and ensure their lucky rabbits' feet (never understood that - the bunny can't have had much luck), winning underpants and Genuine Certified Oirish Lucky Shamrocks are ready and waiting for Wednesday night.

November 06: Nigel Martyn has resumed training after recovering from the groin strain he picked up against Charlton. He's still some way short of being match fit, so Paul Robinson will be looking forward to the San Siro, Chelsea away and Arsenal at home before being asked to hand over the gloves to England's (rightful) number one.

November 06: The city authorities in Milan are drawing on their experience of the 1990 World Cup and will be banning the sale of alcohol in the city all day on Wednesday. 2,300 fans will be there with the official trip, but a further 4,000 are expected to travel independently. Needing a draw after Barca's late equaliser, it seems that our gripe with Barca's goal should rest with the linesman who failed to award Alan Smith a free kick when Pujol wrestled him to the ground. The ref has seen the video and reckons it was a cut and dried Leeds free kick, but he went with the lino who was closer. Not that they didn't deserve the equaliser...

November 06: Injury news is mixed ahead of Wednesday's game. Danny Mills may return, we're waiting to see how Lucas is feeling but there's not much we can do (though his recent problems probably mean that Danny Hay will be needed at some point). Jon Woodgate will need a minor miracle to make it for the game and has been undergoing intensive treatment since Saturday. The real question is what we can do in midfield though, since we will not get anywhere by inviting Shevchenko and Bierhoff to attack and try to defend from 20 yards out as we did in the 2nd half against Barca. Alan Maybury will travel out with the squad having returned from his loan spell at Crewe, signing off with a good performance in their 2-0 victory over Wolves on Saturday.

November 06: One-time Leeds man and Clough follower John McGovern has gone into management at non-league Ilkeston Town. McGovern made a grand total of 4 appearances for Leeds at the start of the 1974-75 season before following Cloughie to Forest.

November 06: Mark Viduka's recent goal-scoring form may owe something to a rant from DOL. When Viduka returned late and still unfit from Sydney, it was made clear to him that we wouldn't tolerate a Brolin situation developing and he had to get his head together and respond with his performances on the pitch. Sounds like the flying crockery worked...

November 06: The "Barca will pay Milan to win" story has been revived after being carried in the Spanish press. Bearing in mind that only one of the mainstream Barca sports papers carried it, it might be worth taking with a pinch of salt, but the story goes that the entire 26-man Milan squad will be on a £61,500 a man bonus if they beat Leeds on Wednesday. UEFA have said they'll only investigate it if someone presents them with evidence. I wonder how many crimes would get solved if the police adopted a similar attitude?

November 05: It looks like Wilko could be stepping down as full-time boss of the England U-21s. Despite the fact that Peter Taylor was eased out to make way for Wilko, it now seems that it was never his intention to manage the squad full-time. With Erickson lined up to control all the top-level squads and coaches, this could mean an enhanced role for Taylor, Steve Mclaren or Brian Kidd in working with the younger players.

November 05: So why has Mark Viduka suddenly started banging in the goals? "It must have been the Aussie air," said the four-goal hero. "I don't know what it is - I've been working really hard, and with every game I've been getting fitter and fitter. Before I went to the Olympics I was unfit. I had missed most of the pre-season, and I was struggling just to make runs," he added. "With every game I feel better and stronger." So that's five against Milan then? Earlier this year, he said he'd told his dog what his goal target for the season was. The dog wasn't available for comment today, but is understood to hope that her master stays ahead of schedule.

November 05: One of the companies that has been selling packages for the Milan game is not ATOL-licensed, and so cannot charter planes or run flights in any way. Chris Abbotts (no relation) Sports and Music were running 2- and 3- day packages for the game on Wednesday, but the Civil Aviation Authority have taken enforcement action against the company, and anyone with a plane ticket from them is advised not to turn up at Leeds Bradford Airport for their flights. Around 200 packages are understood to have been sold, and West Yorkshire Police have confirmed that they are investigating the situation.

November 05: AC Milan showed good goalscoring form today - but poor defensive form, drawing 3-3 at home to Atalanta. Serginho, Oliver Bierhoff and Andriy Shevchenko all netted as the Rossoneri came back from 1-3 down.

November 05: The mascots at yesterday's game were the children and nephews of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, given the chance to lead the teams out for the biggest league game of the season (well, the club could have got them to do it for the Man U game, but after the disgraceful behaviour of their supporters at Old Trafford the other week, it's probably just as well they went for this game).

November 05: Leeds are being linked with Grimsby's on-loan Dane David Neilsen. Neilsen is a striker from Copenhagen who has done well since his arrival, and whom Grimsby are keen to take on permanently. In the same vein, Liverpool's unsettled striker Titi Camara is being mentioned in connection with a move to Leeds. These rumours - and the talk about Phillips yesterday - are no doubt fuelled by the continuing injury to Michael Bridges, but if Camara is unhappy that he's not getting a regular first team place at Anfield, it's hard to see how he'd be satisfied with a similar position behind Smith and Viduka (and soon Kewell) at Elland Road.

November 05: Jon Woodgate's thigh pull will almost certainly keep him out of the Milan game. With a bit of luck, Danny Mills will have got over his ankle injury, but Lucas Radebe remains doubtful with the continuing after-effects of his concussion. One thing is for sure - Shevchenko and co will be an entirely different proposition to the more direct approach of Emile Heskey.

November 05: 4-goal stats: the last Leeds player to manage 4 goals in a game was Allan Clarke against Burnley in 1971. Clarke, Gerry Henry (during the war) and Gordon Hodgson managed the feat twice and Tom Jennings 3 times (twice in a week). Peter Lorimer, Jogn McCole, John Charles, Aubrey Powell, Arthur Hydes and Russell Wainscoat make up the full list. Gordon Hodgson holds the all-time goals-in-a-game record with 5 against Leicester in 1938.

November 04: Post-match reaction. DOL was of course thrilled. "We were a bit lucky but we always have spirit. In Viduka and Smith I felt we always had a chance of taking on their back four and getting something out of them. I always felt we could score goals against them." Neither manager will have been happy with the defending. "Both teams gave away bad goals - from our point of view particularly their first two goals. There was bad marking by us for them and they were two bad free-kicks to give away which led to them. We gave them two goals that they didn't earn." Houllier rightly pointed out that Viduka's winner was offside, but was philosophical and accepted that the battling performance of Leeds had deserved the points. Meanwhile, Mark Viduka said: "I've played better. It was one of those days. Every time I had a sniff of goal it went in. Very rarely do you get to be part of those sort of games."

November 04: Stories this morning linked Leeds with a big-money move for Kevin Philips. Phillips is a good player - winner of the Golden Boot last year no less, but with Viduka and Smith, and Kewell due back at Christmas and Bridges in the New Year, this story can't have much credence - unless Bridges was to head the other way as part of the deal, adn why would Peter Reid just want to swap strikers?

November 04: Viduka! With the first hat-trick for Leeds since Michael Bridges' against Southampton, Mark Viduka sealed an amazing comeback at Elland Road. Unable to field 16 fit players, two goals down after 20 minutes, Jon Woodgate subbed and we came back for a magnificent 4-3 win. A hint of offside about the 4th goal, and Liverpool really should have scored from a couple of attacks where they had two men over, but this has got to be one of the best Leeds performances - in the league at any rate - for a very long time.

November 03: Forza Leeds! Instead of speaking English loudly and slowly, you can try to make sense of all that funny foreign lingo that the locals speak while you're in Milan. Check out the BBC's Education Site for a guide to beer and football language in Italian.

November 03: Former Leeds man Peter Swan has called time on his career after failing to recover from a knee injury sustained before the start of the season. Swan, who is now 34, is club captain at York and played for Leeds in Division 2 in the late 80s, playing mainly as a defender, but also occasionally up front, before being sold to Hull in 1989 for £200,000. He made 60 appearances for Leeds, scoring a total of 13 goals.

November 03: Alan Maybury is due back from his loan spell at Crewe on Monday, but he's hoping to extend it. He might even find himself in the squad for Milan if he does return, but he's betting on his future being away from Elland Road.

November 03: Gary Kelly is back in the Ireland squad for their upcoming friendly with Finland. Kelly has been out of favour recently, so will welcome a recall to the squad for the game in Dublin on November 15.

November 03: Peter Taylor clarified the situation with Lee Bowyer and Jon Woodgate today. He said that all he'd done was ask the FA to state what the position was with the pair, and they'd said that as far as they were concerned they were guilty until proved innocent, and he couldn't pick them (although he was free to choose from other players who have actually been found guilty of criminal offences and served their time). Or words to that effect.

November 03: For tomorrow's game it's looking like mixed news all round. Lee Bowyer, Danny Mills and Olivier Dacourt are all close to fitness, Dominic Matteo is all revved up to face his old club, but Darren Huckerby is still a doubt after picking up an injury on Tuesday. The abysmal weather over the last few days has limited the training that the squad have been able to do, with Thorp Arch conveniently situated in the middle of the damp bit of the country. All of which assumes the game actually will go ahead - a few years back ISTR the Villa home game being cancelled around Christmas due to drainage problems. Saving the worst to last, Lucas Radebe has complained about having more headaches after the Tranmere game, and returned to see the neurologist. He's definitely out of the Liverpool game and could even be ruled out of the game in Milan on Wednesday. On the positive side, Michael Owen has been ruled out, and maybe Robbie Fowler will also be a bit tired, having become a father again as well as playing for 2 hours against Chelsea this week.

November 02: DOL has asked for a bit of leeway for managers when it comes to commenting on referees. He's usually pretty restrained compared to some, but with 3 of the last 4 refs exhibiting just a slight degree of inconsistency in favour of the home side, DOL has spoken out. "Officials make mistakes, as we all do, but even when faced with those mistakes they are reluctant to rescind them. Perhaps the saddest aspect of the whole thing is that as a manager I am not allowed to voice even the most constructive criticism. We live in a democracy yet I am supposed to say nothing or the book will be thrown at me. Meanwhile, the officials get off Scot free." What DOL ignores is the fact that constructive criticism is seldom on offer from the managers in the 15 minutes after a game.

November 02: Besiktas will go into next week's game in the Nou Camp on the back of a victory over Galatasaray in the Ataturk Cup. Barca will be pulling out all the stops to win on Wednesday, since only the full 3 points can keep them in the Champions League.

November 02: Lucas Radebe could be on the point in buying a 50% stake in South African Premier League side Wits University. The club isn't the biggest in SA by any stretch of the imagination but does have good facilities, and such a link-up could lead to young players coming through their system and getting a chance at Elland Road. Nothing firm has been decided yet, but Peter Ridsdale has asked to be kept informed of any developments.

November 02: Harry Kewell will switch on the Leeds lights in Victoria Gardens next Thursday night. He'll be joined by his fiancee Sheree Murphy in a switch-on show that will feature Billie Piper and be compered by Mark Lamarr.

November 02: Frazer Richardson and Jamie McMaster have been called up for the England U-18 friendly against Belgium at Valley Parade building site on November 16.

November 02: Milan lost at Parma yesterday to drop into the bottom half of Serie A. Costacurta picked up an injury that is likely to keep him out of the game next Wednesday, and he is joined on the sidelines by their young striker Gianni Comandini who looks to be out for some time.

November 02: Injury update (part 72): Olivier Dacourt, Danny Mills and Lee Bowyer are all doubts for Saturday against an in-form Liverpool side that includes our old friend Emile "Bruno" Heskey: he'd do well to remember that this game is at Elland Road and with a bit of luck the crowd reaction to his non-stop diving should give the ref a few clues.

November 02: Leeds window cleaner Graham Holmes has decided that enough is enough and that he will no longer clean the windows of Manchester United fans on his round - he's sick of seeing posters and RedWare (not a (tm) but no doubt will be soon) in the houses as he wipes the panes. Holmes joins long-time Leeds fan and painter Gary Edwards, who is well known for his hatred of all things red, to the extent that he refuses to use "that colour" on a job. Maybe we could build up a network of refuseniks: I know I've not bought anything from Sharp for as long as I can remember, and if I'd been on Vodafone I'd be using a different network by now.

November 01: Darren Huckerby's ankle flared up last night and could keep him out at the weekend. Lee Bowyer is less than 50-50 for the game, and Stephen McPhail's achilles looks like it could take a long time to heal. DOL was fairly downbeat: "People are saying to me 'change the team', but I haven't got much left to do that. What can I do? We're very depleted at the moment, and it's times like this when that is highlighted even more." Of course the fact that we've failed to strengthen the squad - partly because there are such a limited number of players available, partly because we can't add to the wage bill, and also because we don't want to spend money ahead of the FIFA transfer changes. Whatever, we now find ourselves in serious trouble.

November 01: Bradford are trying to deflect the heat from Stan Collymore by accusing Leeds fans of racist abuse on Sunday. It's true that the Leeds fans were chanting unpleasant things at one particular black man, just like we've done against Emile Heskey in the past. But, as with Heskey, where the abuse related to his diving and violent challenges, the abuse for Collywobble was a dig at his "stress" problems and the fact that he's been known to beat up women half his size, not the fact that he's not white.

November 01: John Aldridge reckons that Tranmere may have done us a favour by knocking us out of the Worthington Cup. "I just hope that this setback for them acts as a spur and they go on and do well in the Champions League and the Premiership. I would love to see them progress. It is hard to take what happened against Barcelona. I have known David for a long time and I wish him well." On the downside, we'd have faced Palace after they beat Leicester 3-0 at Filbert Street, which should have given us an easy passage to the 5th round. On the upside a pretty much full strength Liverpool were also taken to extra time against Chelsea tonight, so hopefully they'll be a bit more tired than they otherwise would be on Saturday morning - but they at least finished on a high with a late winner from Robbie Fowler.

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