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October 31: Kevin Blackwell says that Saturday finally saw the real David Healy in action for Leeds. He said: "There's no doubt David's come on and played like we know he can and that's the first time we've seen the real David Healy for a long time. David is unfortunate that he's picked up this ankle injury and he can't train at the moment, he just gets treatment during the week and plays, and it's same with Rob Hulse. I am very aware that if I start with two lads with bad ankles it will be sods law that I lose one of them." He went on: "His hold up play was good and you get him in the box and give him a chance and two out of three times he'll finish. It was a great finish and he had a similar chance later on and we wanted an action replay but it didn't quite happen."
October 31: With Bobby Robson in the frame to take over at Hearts after George Burley's shock departure, Leeds coach John Carver has been linked with a move to Scotland to join his one-time boss at Newcastle. But Kevin Blackwell has knocked back the suggestion that Carver was about to make a move north: "There has been no approach whatsoever from anyone at Hearts and as far as I'm concerned there's nothing to talk about. It's all speculation because of the Bobby Robson link - but Sir Bobby has not been appointed yet." Blackwell admitted that he had discussed the possibility with Carver, but since the waters at Tynecastle are getting muddier by the second, Carver looks to be staying at Leeds for now.
October 31: Leeds Ladies recorded a good win at the weekend in the local derby with Doncaster Rovers Belles. Leeds went a goal down early on, but came back to win 3-1 with goals from Lucy Ward, Sophie Walton and an og from a Sue Smith shot.
October 31: Today's papers allege that Jermaine Pennant is back in trouble again. Barely 6 months after coming out of jail for a drink-driving offence, he is said to have been sent home from training after turning up drunk. Steve Bruce is believed to be considering his options - with the sack a strong possibility for a player who was offered a huge lifeline and an immense amount of support by the club.
October 30: Kevin Blackwell says that the team will get better as the season goes on - and used Saturday's opponents as an example. He said: "We have about five players out there who have only played 11 times as a unit. We will improve as they get used to each other. Reading have players who have played 200 games together and it showed. At times they seemed telepathic." As an ex-keeper himself, Blackwell paid tribute to the performance of both custodians. He said: "Both keepers earned their corn at the end of the match. Neil Sullivan did well to keep out Dave Kitson's injury time effort, but Marcus Hahnemann made two magnificent saves."
October 29: Clyde Wijnhard continued his good start for new club Macclesfield with the opener against Bristol Rovers. That lead only lasted for three minutes, but Macclesfield struck again to take the match 2-1. Julian Joachim slotted home Boston's second just past the hour against bottom side Torquay - and 2-0 is how that finished. One-time Leeds youngster Craig Farrell scored Exeter's second against Tamworth and then added another on the stroke of full time as the home side recorded a 3-0 win. Finally JFH got on the scoresheet for Boro as they routed ManU 4-1.
October 28: Rob Hulse is said to be finally ready to play a game fully fit after struggling with a persistent ankle injury. Despite the problem, he's still consistently found the net, but is finally back in full training. He said: "It's been difficult not training and playing games but I can train now and hopefully I'll get stronger. I have had it heavily strapped up but I don't like the strappings and have been trying to wean myself off them." Hulse is hoping to repeat his feat in his debut game for Leeds with a goal against Reading. He said: "It was a good first game for me against them, I won't forget it in a hurry - it was probably my favourite footballing memory - and it would be great to score against them again."
October 28: Gylfi Einarsson says that he thinks the ref was a bit harsh in giving him a red card for the challenge on Robbie Savage at Blackburn. Einarsson agreed with Kevin Blackwell's assessment that both players had intended to win the ball: "We both went for the ball it was a 50-50 tackle and I think the referee should have given us both a yellow card, as simple as that. I feel I was harshly dealt with. I got the ball and that was always first on my mind, I might have caught him after that but the video shows I clearly got the ball first." He went on: "It could have been me that was caught, but it doesn't surprise me that he rolled over and got down like he'd been shot."
October 28: Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell have been selected for Australia's World Cup play-off matches against Uruguay next month. Despite the fact that Kewell has barely played this season, he will have the chance to put the disappointment of two successive play-off eliminations behind him.
October 27: Kevin Blackwell is keeping his powder dry in the loan market, despite losing Gylfi Einarsson to a 3-match ban on top of his existing injury list. The Icelandic midfielder will miss the weekend game at Reading along with the trip to Crewe and the visit of Preston after the club decided not to appeal his red card from Ewood Park. Blackwell said: "We didn't think it would be worth it, even though I still feel the referee was wrong to penalise just one player for what were basically two identical tackles. Losing Gylfi is a blow because we are looking very thin in certain positions, especially with Jonathan Douglas carrying a calf injury that meant I did not want to risk him from the start at Blackburn." He went on: "I am looking at the loan market, but we only have a set budget and the longer we can go without having to bring anyone in the better."
October 27: Leeds have confirmed that they will travel to France next month to play Rodez Aveyron during the international break. The game will take place on Tuesday 8 November in Rodez - where there's an airport served by Ryanair flights from Stansted. Tempting - looks like quite a nice place and then there's the incredible Norman Foster-designed Millau viaduct to see. The club have a website here.
October 26: Kevin Blackwell defended the experiemental formation he used at Ewood Park on Tuesday night, pointing out that injuries and the need to give some of the fringe players a run had come into the equation. He also noted that Leeds had held out for an hour using the tactics he chose: He said: "We had a system and it worked, Blackburn couldn't break it down and that's the strongest side they could put out. That's a side that has won at Old Trafford so we knew it would be tough and it proved to be the case." True - but maybe it would be a bit more valid if Leeds had come remotely close to scoring. He said: "I wanted to look at Healy, Moore and Blake to see how they coped as a three because if I lose Rob Hulse then we might have to go to that sort of system and I have to find out if it worked." So that's that one answered then.
October 25: Kevin Blackwell has been disappointed with the poor gates at Elland Road - despite the good performances from the team this season. Although many are attributing high ticket prices as the main cause, Blackwell still hopes to appeal to fans' enthusiasm and eternal optimism. He said: "We need the fans back, it makes a real difference to us, so please come back wherever you are. [Friday night] felt like a Premiership game and that's why we have to get back to the Premiership so we can enjoy some more like that."
October 25: Blackpool have secured the services of young midfielder Ian Morris for a further month. Colin Hendry has used the youngster just four times so far, but will now have until the end of November to gain some useful first-team experience at Bloomfield Road.
October 25: Ex-Leeds striker Noel Whelan has submitted himself to the surgeon's knife in order to try to sort out a groin injury. Whelan has been doing pretty well for Boston United, but is now likely to miss at least a month as he gets back to full fitness.
October 25: Michael Gray is looking forward to facing Leeds tonight - not that he's got any scores to settle. He's extremely grateful that he had the chance to play on loan at Elland Road last season and resurrect his stalled Blackburn career. Gray said: "I had a fantastic time at Leeds, but if I'm honest I think the Premiership is where I belong at the moment... It was important to go out on loan because first team football is what I've been involved in right the way through my career and when you're not playing you get a bit disheartened." He went on: "The lads made me welcome which was really pleasing and I fitted in well. I really enjoyed my time there and got some first team matches under my belt again, so I came back here optimistic." And he adds the inevitable and obligatory "big club" quote: "Kevin Blackwell's got a great squad of lads there and with the fan base they have there it's a huge club. There's only one place that they should be, which is the Premiership, but I think we've said that about a few clubs over the last five years or so." Meanwhile Neil Sullivan is keen to face some top-flight strikers again. He said: "The cup game is up next and that's going to be a difficult one for us against a Premiership side but we look forward to it. It's going to be a big test for us and will show us how far we've come, then we've got the team in second so there's another tough week ahead but we're going okay and there's no reason why we shouldn't look forward to it."
October 25: Leeds held out for an hour against a strong Blackburn side tonight and, although the final margin flattered Blackburn somewhat, the result was fair on the balance of play. Leeds failed to muster a single strike on target and it wasn't until Rob Hulse was asked to drag his weary limbs off the bench for the last 15 minutes that there was any semblance of a real threat up front. However Kevin Blackwell's side did put on a solid defensive display and it took the introduction of Craig Bellamy for Blackburn to finally ease ahead. Gylfi Einarsson was dismissed late on - a straight red rather than an addition to the yellow card he'd already acquired - for a high challenge on Robbie Savage. Kevin Blackwell defended his player after seeing the TV replay, saying: "To be fair, they were both going for the ball but the referee got it wrong. If he sends one off, he has to send the other off as well. If Gylfi had gone over the top, Savage would not have been in a position to gesture to our fans as he was going off the pitch, so clearly he was not badly hurt, but then we are not in the Premier League and I believe that makes a difference." Savage winding the fans up? Surely not... Mark Hughes gushed with praise for Bellamy, saying of his summer signing: "Craig is an exceptionally talented player, that is why I paid top dollar for him. He has so much quality in the attacking third and generally makes an impact when he comes on, which he has done again here."
October 24: The Academy side had a cracking win at the weekend, running out 4-1 victors over Newcastle. Johnny Howson, Scott Gardner and David Brown - twice - were the names on the scoresheet, although there was a slight downside for Leeds when they finished the game with 10 men after Robert Bayly was forced off with an injury after all the subs had been used.
October 24: Steve Stone's run of bad luck continues with the news that he is to face yet another operation and will not play until well into the new year. Kevin Blackwell was understandably dsappointed, but there's not a lot he can do (other than stick his fingers in his ears when all the Leeds fans who bothered to ask Pompey fans about Stone say "I told you so"). Blackwell said: "It's a massive blow for us and Steve. I really feel for him. He is very frustrated and disappointed. All Steve's seen since he came here is the training ground and the medical room. He didn't come here to watch and sit on the bench but that's all he's able to do."
October 24: Shaun Derry is suspended for tomorrow's trip to Blackburn, and Jonathan Douglas added to Kevin Blackwell's midfield concerns by picking up an injury at the weekend, so it's touch and go whether or not he'll be fit to face the club from which he is on loan, although Rovers had indicated they were happy for him to play. For Blackburn, defender Ryan Nelsen is carrying a knee injury but it's otherwise a full-strength squad for Mark Hughes to choose from, with Craig Bellamy looking to build match fitness and one-time favorites Matt Jansen and David Thompson also pushing for a start.
October 23: Michael Ricketts was once again on target for Cardiff, opening the scoring for the Bluebirds as they went on to hammer Crewe 6-1. Warren Feeney gave Luton the lead against Plymouth, but despite a hatful of chances they failed to extend their advantage and conceded a late equaliser to the Pilgrims. Harpal Singh came off the bench to pull Stockport back to 2-2 against 10-man Northampton, and two more goals for County in the second half gained them the three points and pulled them clear of the drop zone. A less positive day for Mark Tinkler though: the Hartlepool player was dismissed 2 minutes from time for fighting with MK Dons' sub Aaron Wilbraham after 'Pool had come back from a goal down to take a winning 2-1 lead.
October 23: Matthew Kilgallon says that he wants a regular starting spot - though he's not using a move away from the club as a bargaining chip. He said: "Butts and Gregan have done well and they are both experienced players. But I want to be playing and I want to help Leeds up into the Premiership. I've just bought my own house and I've no plans on moving. We're talking about the contract situation and we'll see what happens." There have been plenty of suggestions that other clubs would be more than willing to take a promising one-time England U-21 star off our hands - particularly one that wasn't too happy about not getting a game or being played out of position...
October 22: A cracking strike from Frazer Richardson was cancelled out by a slip from Gary Kelly that let in the Blades' Steve Kabba - but honour was satisfied at Elland Road last night as Leeds took a hard-earned point from the runaway league leaders. Blackwell said: "We knew it would be tough and it was but we more than competed and we could easily have won the game." He went on: "I didn't see them cause us any real problems and we did well as a unit. There are a few areas we have to brush up on, but if I wasn't saying that we would be perfect wouldn't we? We now know we can compete and, for me, that's the key." And the boss knows that his side have got through a tough test in the last few days: "If you'd have said at the start of the week that we would take seven points from nine, you'd have to accept it." Blades manager Neil Warnock was equally happy to share the points. He said: "I thought it was a good game and a good Yorkshire derby. It's nice to be talking about good teams in Yorkshire after all the doom and gloom of recent years." But Warnock wasn't happy after clashing with the stadium security people for allegedly inciting the crowd - though he claims that a hand gesture he made was the correct response to the question "Warnock Warnock what's the score?" He said: "The game is bent if you can't have a laugh with the crowd... Who do they think they are? Have they no sense of humour? They'd probably put me in prison in padlocks."
October 21: Neil Warnock and Kevin Blackwell said that there would be no personal grudges held over tonight's Yorkshire derby. Blackwell's one-time boss has Sheffield United running away with the division and has held the Indian sign over Leeds in recent years. Last season, Blackwell seemed to make an attempt to wind up Warnock that failed badly with Leeds going down 0-4 at home. This time round, Blackwell said: "I'm just looking for a great game of football and on current form there's every chance it will be. Yorkshire has not had much to shout about in footballing terms recently so it's important in that sense that two Yorkshire clubs are at the top end of the table. Hopefully the dream will come true for both clubs and Yorkshire will have two sides back in the Premiership next season." Warnock is being a bit tight-lipped after recent comments have seen him charged by the FA, but said: "It's a big test for both clubs. It'll be a cracking game and it's great for Yorkshire to have two clubs up there, both challenging for promotion."
October 21: David Healy and Rob Hulse both face late fitness tests ahead of tonight's game. The only other doubt about Leeds' starting line-up is whether Matthew Kilgallon will get a start ahead of Sean Gregan who was subbed against Saints after being given the run-around at the back. Rob Kozluk and David Unsworth are big doubts for the visitors - but Keith Gillespie is expected to play and has something to prove after being passed over for a contract offer after his summer trial at Leeds. Gillespie said: "I went on trial to Leeds for nine days, but during that time I never really had any contact with Kevin Blackwell. He didn't speak to me much at all, apart from once on the day I arrived. The day before they left on tour he spoke to me and told me that he had no money and couldn't afford to sign me. And that was that - I didn't get to play in any games." Blackwell pointed out that it was purely a business decision once he'd used up his remaining wage budget signing Steve Stone. He said: "If there had been some money, I would have offered him something."
October 20: Jon Woodgate got himself on the scoresheet yet again last night, this time seeing his name go down in the right column The ex-Leeds defender headed home a Beckham cross to bring Real Madrid level against Rosenborg in the Champions League on their way to a 4-1 win.
October 20: Burnley midfielder Micah Hyde will face an FA charge of violent conduct after a tunnel incident at Turf Moor last Saturday left Shaun Derry needing stitches. Hyde has a fortnight to respond to the charge. Surprisingly enough, there's no sign of any Leeds player being charged in connection with the confrontation yet.
October 20: The reserves went down to another defeat at South Leeds Stadium last night, coming out 0-3 losers to Aston Villa. The visitors had a slightly more experienced side that that fielded by Leeds, with Stephen Crainey, Rui Marques, Simon Walton and Danny Pugh appearing for Leeds.
October 19: Harry Redknapp was predictably unhappy about last night's result, insisting that his side had dominated much of the game and tipping himself to take the Saints back up to the top flight. He said: "There is a big gap [to Sheffield United] but I'm not saying we're going to finish top.I'm very confident and I think we'll go up, I really do." He also had praise for Theo Walcott, the youngster who grabbed the goal which pulled Saints back into the game. Redknapp said: "He was terrific and he's not 17 until next year... He could have had a hat-trick but he was getting in there and that's what matters. But I was pleased with all of them to be honest." Leeds head coach John Carver admitted that it was a bit of a lucky win but was glad to net a confidence-building three points ahead of Friday's visit of Sheffield United. He said: "It was a scruffy performance, but we've ground it out and got the three points." He went on: "I'm delighted for Robbie Blake because he's been working so hard in training. He's been disappointed with his performances so far but he did well on Saturday and again tonight. He deserved his goal and what a goal it was."
October 19: Warren Feeney opened the scoring at Kenilworth Road as Luton raced to a 4-0 lead over Norwich. The visitors staged a bit of a comeback in the second half, but Luton held on for a 4-2 win. Clyde Wijnhard wasted no time opening his account for his new club Macclesfield, heading home David Beresford's cross in the 51st minute of their LDV Vans Trophy match against Chesterfield. The former Leeds striker then returned the compliment, setting up Beresford for the only other goal of the game to seal a 2-0 win. Michael Duberry made it 2-0 to Stoke in their local derby against Crewe but was then sent off for elbowing Crewe's Pavol Suhaj in the last minute.
October 19: Shaun Derry picked up his fifth yellow card of the season - think he must have got one while playing for the reserves, since he's only on four from first-team games - and so will face a one-match ban. He will be free to play in Friday's game against Sheffield United, but will miss the trip to Ewood Park in the Carling Cup next Tuesday. Sean Gregan is one more card away from a similar ban, with Jonathan Douglas the only other Leeds player to reach 3 cards this season.
October 18: Leeds U-18 side won again at the weekend with a 3-0 hammering of Barnsley. Gavin Rothery returned from a successful spell on England duty to score again, with David Brown and Kevin Smith adding the others. Academy boss Neil Thompson said: "It was another good performance and the boys are looking very confident right now... They're passing the ball very well right now and they look as if they can get even better - and that's what we'll be looking for them to do."
October 18: Tonight's visitors Southampton are turning into the division's draw specialists with 9 out of 13 games played so far ending up all square. Blackwell said: "Their record clearly says they don't lose too many games, although they don't win too many either, so we know it's going to be tough if we want to put back to back wins together. This is a big week for us, we've had Burnley away, now Southampton and then there's Sheffield United at home before Blackburn away and we always knew this glut of games would be a real test of our character." He went on: "We've come through the first test at Burnley and if we beat Southampton then we are half-way there to having an excellent week." Shaun Derry is a doubt after the "tunnel incident" at Turf Moor, and for the visitors Leeds fans will be disappointed to learn that panto villain Dennis Wise is out with an injury, experienced striker Marian Pahars is also likely to miss out with an injury and Darren Powell is suspended.
October 18: David Healy is hoping to return to the starting line-up tonight after an eventful month in his footballing life. He scored the winner against England, then received a red card and a three-match ban for retaliating against Mark Bircham at QPR. Healy said: "It's been a long month. It doesn't seem long ago I scored against England, and I went from high to low with the sending off." The player returned from international duty on Thursday night carrying a knock from the Austria game, but jumped at the chance to play against Burnley where he was brought down for the free kick that Eddie Lewis put away for Leeds' equaliser. He said: "I wasn't on for long, but I might have scored if he hadn't pulled me back... You don't want to see people sent-off though and... if he had been sent off it might have got their backs up."
October 17: Lots of folks with stuff to say after Saturday's win at Turf Moor. Loan star Jonathan Douglas reckons it was a deserved 3 points for the visitors. "It was a feisty game but we expect that in this league all games are going to be like that and we have to win the battles out there on the pitch and we won more than they did." He went on: "Over the whole match it looked as if there would just be one winner because we dominated the game and had more chances and it's great to come here and get the three points." And he praised team-mate Eddie Lewis for the free-kick and cross which turned the game around: "It was a great free-kick from Eddie, he's capable of doing that he's got a great left foot but I think it was actually his right foot he crossed the ball with for Hulse's goal." Manager Kevin Blackwell was clearly pleased with a result that keeps his side in the hunt for a promotion place. He said: "I said to the lads at one time that there was one team that could win it and one team that could lose it - and that was us. We nearly lost it because of a lack of concentration when Akinbiyi got in but we showed great tenacity after that." Blackwell had praise for David Healy and Rob Hulse who were both strong injury doubts ahead of the game: "The problem with David is we were scared of playing him because he had treatment up until kick-off and we knew he wasn't fit enough to start, but I just wanted 20 minutes from him. The decision to put him on the bench was made at quarter past eleven when I put the team sheet in, it was as late as that... Rob's got in the right place at the right time and a bit of cramp set in later and he just couldn't run anymore for us." Scorer Rob Hulse was unhappy that the ref had refused to allow him treatment on a bleeding leg wound just before half-time. He said: "The referee didn't give me anything and would not stop the game even when I got injured. I have a big cut on my ankle already and their goalkeeper landed on it after I nicked it round him. I am not having a go at their goalkeeper because he was committed as well, but the home fans gave me stick so it makes it even better to score the winner after that."
October 17: Kevin Blackwell says that Saturday's win was the perfect response to the press speculation that has suggested his job is on the line (though to be fair to the press, I've seen twenty times more space afforded to his denials that there's any doubt over his position compared to any vaguely solid suggestion to the contrary. Blackwell said: "It's never nice when your job's being speculated about because I think I'm doing a decent job. All I can do is my job and hope people get off my back, but there was nothing to write about last week when this Dennis thing raised its head again... It's frustrating because I just want to get on with the job and I don't need distractions from outside.
October 17: The FA are waiting for ref Mike Dean's report into the tunnel incident that left Shaun Derry needing stitches. Derry was reportedly attacked by Burnley's Micah Hyde after the final whistle. An FA spokesman said: "We're aware of the reports of an incident and will be studying reports and liaising with the police over the coming days." So if normal FA behaviour is anything to go by, Derry will be banned for 12 games and forced to pay the dry-cleaning bill for Hyde's shirt and a fiver for a can of paint from Homebase to cover up the bloodstain on the tunnel wall, while Hyde will be given a big box of chocolates and will be allowed to go to bed an hour later.
October 16: Kevin Blackwell today followed Steve Cotterill's lead and insisted he'd not seen any altercation in the tunnel after yesterday's game. He said: "I said thanks to the fans because the support was fantastic and I was in the changing room, so if there was [a fight], I'm not aware of it."
October 15: Kevin Blackwell had plenty of praise for Rob Hulse after the top scorer played through the painand grabbed the winner at Turf Moor today. Hulse headed home Eddie Lewis's cross to put Leeds in front just after the American winger had equalised from a direct free kick. Blackwell said: "Rob hasn't been able to train with us and he's taken some whacks on the ankles but he put in a real big shift, culminating with the goal, and I'm delighted with him." Haven't seen what he thought of Sean Gregan's foul that gave rise to the penalty though: strange that - you can bet that if it had been conceded by Kilgallon or Richardson then the manager would be telling the world how badly they'd let the team down.
October 15: There were signs that police and stewards were involved in separating a Leeds player from a Burnley player in the tunnel at the final whistle. Burnley boss Steve Cotterill saw nowt but has warned that any of his players implicated in the trouble will be in for the high jump. It's thought the Leeds player involved was Ian Moore or Robbie Blake, but that has not been confirmed, and there's no indication yet that the ref got involved and dished out any post-whistle red cards.
October 14: Just what is going on at Leeds? Just when things seemed to be achieving some semblance of normality, the boat is well and truly rocking again. In today's Times there's an article which hints at the frustration felt by Kevin Blackwell at the continual stream of rumours surrounding the security of his tenure, and at the fact that - whatever may be said in public - he doesn't enjoy the unequivocal support of the chairman. Now I'll admit that I've not been shy about articulating my less than 100% pro-Blackwell position in the past - but the question any of the Blackwell-out mob must answer is: "If not Kev then who?" Name me an out-of-work manager - or indeed one who is doing a decent job with his current club and would be prepared to walk away to join Leeds - who you think would do a better job than KB? I continue to disagree with some of his tactics and his approach to man-management, but given the choice between Blackwell and Dennis Wise, you'd need to have sent your brain away in a taxi to prefer the latter. The Times quotes Blackwell saying that he took on a job with an uncertain future, and adds: "Now we've turned it around and the chairman has admitted some people have approached him for my job. People should have some f***ing respect." And in a strong dig at those who have suggested that the Bates-Wise friendship might lead to a job offer, he said: "I might have to walk away from here. Who knows? But I do know Dennis Wise is not liked by Leeds fans."
October 14: Striker Robbie Blake is ready to face his former team-mates at Turf Moor tomorrow - and he's been training extra hard for it. Leeds fitness trainer Dean Riddle shared the opinion of the player and most fans in believing that he was well short of full match fitness, and so Blake was sent off to train for and complete a full triathlon. He said: "I've been training hard with Dean over the break, that's been going well and I have seen the rewards in training. I've been sharper and stronger and hopefully if I am selected on Saturday I can build on that and do well... It's been a tough couple of weeks but hopefully I will get my reward at Burnley." He went on: "I had a great time at the club and I can tell you that when their fans get behind them it can make it a very difficult place for visiting team to play. We will know we've been in a game on Saturday."
October 13: A couple of current Leeds players were in international action last night. Gylfi Einarsson came on as second-half sub for Iceland in their 3-1 defeat by Sweden. At least he came through the game unscathed. David Healy missed a hatful of chances and was then forced off with an ankle injury as Northern Ireland went down 2-0 against Austria. With Richard Cresswell already injured and Rob Hulse's chances of making the Burnley game rated no better than 50%, an injury to Healy is the last thing Kevin Blackwell needs. Paul Robinson and Rio Ferdinand both played in England's 2-1 win over Austria: not much either could have done about the visitors' goal. And Sven played to the Old Trafford locals by bringing on Alan Smith for a grand total of 3 minutes at the death. Ian Harte missed an early chance to head Ireland in front, and Robbie Keane might also have expected to make more of his limited chances as the Republic were held to a goalless draw in Dublin by Switzerland and so slipped out of the World Cup.
October 13: Kevin Blackwell says that Matthew Kilgallon needs to keep his head up and continue to work on his game despite not getting a sniff of the first team this season. Blackwell said: "At the moment it's very difficult for him because Paul Butler and Sean Gregan really haven't given Matthew a sniff. I make no apologies because that's the kind competition we are looking for at this club, and it's reassuring to know that if one of those two isn't playing well then Matthew will have a chance. He went on: "I have high hopes for him and am sure he will develop into a very good defender, and that will be at centre half. I have used him at left-back when I've needed him to help us out there, but I know he is a better centre-half and if he keeps working hard he'll get his chance."
October 12: Dan Harding, Danny Pugh and Rui Marques were the only "experienced" names on show in last night's goalless draw with Middlesbrough at Billingham's ground. Simon Madden and Robert Bayly both hit the woodwork, and Mark Wilberforce had to pull off some good stops to keep a clean sheet.
October 12: The club today rather surprisingly moved to quash what had been a low-key rumour about Dennis Wise's possible arrival at Elland Road. Although Ken Bates' programme notes have hinted at the sword being sharpened should the team's early-season inconsistency not be addressed, even Bates wouldn't sack a manager when the team are sitting pretty in a play-off place. A club spokesman said: "It's simply not true, someone is mischief making ahead of our game with Southampton." So the only questions I have are: why now, why this rumour? Hundreds of rumours about the club circulate all the time without being officially denied. Have years of lies and misdirection left us so paranoid that we read meaning into something as simple as an outright putdown?
October 12: Former Leeds striker Clyde Wijnhard is a target for Macclesfield after being told he had no future at Darlington for breaking club discipline. Wijnhard's registration is still held by the Quakers, so it would have to be a loan move until the transfer window, but with Darlo not interested in a reconciliation, it looks like it's down to the player to make a decision.
October 11: Rui Marques has turned down the chance to gain some first-team experience with Oldham after failing to break into the first team at Elland Road. The defender joined after the season was already underway and the Butler-Gregan partnership established, and his only appearance has been in the League Cup. Oldham boss Ronnie Moore said: "The deal was done with Leeds after we spoke to their manager... I've seen Marques play and he's a decent defender, but he must have been advised not to sign for us." Marques apparently turned down the move on the advice of his agent - no doubt on the off-chance that injuries or suspensions will hit the defence as bad as it has the frontmen and give the new boy an opening.
October 11: Kevin Blackwell has got his eyes on signing Millwall midfielder Dave Livermore on loan according to today's Mirror.
October 11: Rob Hulse has aggravated his earlier ankle ligament problems in training and is now a doubt for this weekend's trip to Burnley. With Richard Cresswell already sidelined to the New Year, Blackwell's transfers are looking even more prescient. Or maybe he'll be forced to recall Michael "Goal Machine" Ricketts from his loan spell at Cardiff? Strangers things have happened!
October 11: Jon Woodgate completed 90 minutes in a Real Madrid shirt for the first time since his arrival in Spain over a year ago as he played in a friendly during the international break. Although he managed to avoid a red card this time, he did manage yet another own goal. Maybe he's getting his bad luck out of the way early...
October 10: David Healy is worth at least two million of yer fine English pounds according to Kevin Blackwell. The Leeds boss has rubbished the suggestion that the striker is on the point of leaving Elland Road, saying: "David is a massive part of the future of this club and he is not for sale."
October 10: Kevin Blackwell will be up before the FA because of what he had to say about David Healy's sending off against QPR. Blackwell hit out at the ref and the FA committee that failed to overturn his ban for lashing out at Marc Bircham, particularly considering that it was the QPR player who was the initial aggressor. Blackwell said: "I would question the validity of the people who are making these decisions. I haven't asked the question, but I'd be keen to know who the video panel are. Their identities should be public." He went on: "Everyone makes mistakes, and it would have been nice for the referee to admit he got it wrong and for the disciplinary committee to back that up." So now at least he'll get to find out who these people are...
October 10: The Academy side ran out 1-0 winners over Forest at the weekend despite losing several regulars to international duty. Charlie Hutton scored for Leeds after a quick break from the back, and boss Neil Thompson said: "In these past couple of games [Hutton has] done really well - it was probably his best game on Saturday so for him to get the goal is terrific. It was another good performance that carries on the way been playing over last few weeks, a better choice of ball in the final third and we could have won more comfortably."
October 10: With South Africa blowing qualification for the World Cup, Lucas Radebe says he's ready to help his country to future international success - particularly when they host the World Cup. He said: "I would love to get involved with Bafana. I want to put something back into the game through my knowledge and experience." And after previous internal rifts, he added: "Whoever coaches South Africa needs support from the administrators and players. I would like to see only players who have come through the ranks because in that way they are familiar with the system at international level." But there's a long way to go first, with his wife's recovery from cancer taking priority over everything else: "When things have settled down I will look to take all my badges and get the qualifications I need. I have talked about coaching before and I have thought about it for a long time now, and I would really like to give it a go. I think there's a lot I can offer to people, especially young players, I think it would be good to start working with them first to see if we can learn from each other."
October 08: Aaron Lennon was the star of the show as the England U-21 side went down 1-2 at Elland Road on Friday night. The ex-Leeds winger was singled out for praise by boss Peter Taylor in a display he otherwise characterised as "sloppy". Taylor said: "This is the first time I have ever worked with Aaron and he is a very good player who wants to keep on improving... He was outstanding. He got the man of the match award and deserved it. The boy is a real talent. He is very clever and quick and when we got the ball to him in the first-half we looked like we were going to win." James Milner set up Carlton Cole to give England the lead in the first half, and Milner himself spurned a good chance to double the lead. Ten minutes after the break, poor defensive work saw Austria all square, and Scott Carson's failure to hold a long distance shot 15 minutes from time allowed Marc Janko to follow-up and grab the winner. The U-21s now face a play-off to qualify for the final stages of the tournament.
October 08: Andy Keogh scored after just 22 seconds to get Scunthorpe off to a flying start at Tranmere on Friday night. The ex-Leeds youngster scored his sixth goal of the season as the visitors went on to win 0-2 and move into sixth spot in the table.
October 08: Julian Joachim got Boston off to a flyer at Notts County on Friday night with a cracking solo goal after just 25 seconds. A bizarre og ten minutes later doubled the lead for Boston, but they ended up playing with 9 men after Noel Whelan picked up his second yellow card of the game just before the hour mark, and after conceding a late consolation goal, keeper Nathan Abbey also received his marching orders.
October 08: David Healy came close but good defending ensured that he failed to find the net for Northern Ireland as they came back from 0-2 down to Wales only to lose 2-3 at Windsor Park. Paul Robinson kept a clean sheet for England - but had to do more work than he would have expected against Austria after David Beckham picked up two yellow cards early in the second half. Rio Ferdinand had been dropped to the bench after a run of poor form, but got a run after injuries and the need to adopt a more defensive posture forced Sven into some substitutions. Alan Smith had been included in the squad but didn't make the final cut, so was forced to watch from the stands.
October 07: Brian Deane isn't coating himself with glory in Australia according to coach Steve McMahon. The veteran ex-Leeds striker joined Perth Glory at the start of the season and has started every game so far but hasn't been as effective as his coach was hoping. McMahon said: "I'd be lying if I said I was pleased with him. If he came out and said he was happy with his performance, then I'd be a bit baffled. I've spoken to Brian briefly, he's disappointed with the situation and with his form."
October 07: Clyde Wijnhard has been shown the door by Darlington after apparently breaching club disciplinary rules. Darlo boss David Hodgson said: "Clyde will not be playing for the club any more, his future lies elsewhere. The decision has been made following discussions with Clyde and the PFA. It is in the best interests of Clyde and the football club that we part. It is disappointing that it's reached such a conclusion, but now Clyde has the chance to try his luck elsewhere." Wijnhard was top scorer for the club last season, but hasn't had as much success this time round. Hodgson said: "He knew how important it was to do well this season, but he just hasn't been able to find the form we know he has. It is frustrating, but I hope he can go on and prove what a good player he is."
October 07: Leeds are apparently on the point of landing Cahill on loan - unfortunately it's defender Gary of Villa rather than midfielder Tim of Everton. Kevin Blackwell is interested in signing the youngster as defensive cover according to today's Mirror. Not quite sure what message that sends to Matthew Kilgallon and Simon Walton, particularly given Blackwell's continued expression of interest in Viking Stavanger defender Brede Hangeland...
October 07: Lee Bowyer was back in the courtroom today, although this time it was the relatively minor issue of a driving offence that brought him to the dock. The player was apparently caught doing 112mph in a 70 mph zone, overtaking a police car along the way. However he's escaped an immediate ban though: he claims that he didn't receive the summons to the initial hearing at which he was found guilty in his absence. He's now put in a plea of not guilty and will return to court on November 9.
October 07: The saga of Jonathan Woodgate's dodgy legs continues. He picked up an ankle knock in last night's friendly between Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano and will face another batch of physio over the next week in the hope of being fit for the derby match against Atletico on Saturday week.
October 06: Kevin Blackwell is hoping to "do a West Ham" and sneak up on promotion with the minimum of fuss and fanfare. Blackwell says: "West Ham were 9th and 10th for the best part of last season and went up. Wolves crept in the back door the year before. The top two [Sheff U and Reading] are there to be shot at, so it is nice to be tucked in at the back, in a decent position. The club is progressing but what we don't want is a snakes and ladders situation, where you go up two places, down three places."
October 05: Kevin Blackwell says that there are no plans to recall Michael Ricketts from his loan spell at Cardiff, despite the injury to Richard Cresswell. He said: "At the moment, I am not going to do anything. This time last year an injury like Richard's would have really hurt us but we have got the people in the club now that will keep us going." Meanwhile, the transfer window rumours are already starting, and the first silly season story links David Healy with a move to struggling Pompey.
October 05: England U-21 boss Peter Taylor has appealed for a large crowd to turn up at Elland Road on Friday to support his team. He said: "We've had fantastic support on our travels around England and with a big crowd behind us at Elland Road creating a great atmosphere we'll go into the game with a lot of confidence. I hope they will really get behind the team." Tickets are a tenner for adults, a fiver for concessions, with the possible U-21 debut for Aaron Lennon an added draw.
October 04: The Under-18 side had a great 4-0 win over Boro at the weekend - and several of the youngsters involved have received international call-ups this week. Gavin Rothery returned from injury with a goal, U-16 striker Danny Rose opened the scoring, with David Brown and Jonny Howson getting the other goals. Rothery joins full-back Ben Parker and first-teamer Simon Walton in the England U-19 squad for the upcoming mini-tournament in Poland. Danny Rose and Michael Woods are in the U-16 Victory Shield games (keep an eye on Sky since they usually televise them) with Liam Darville and Tom Taiwo on standby. Simon Madden joins the Ireland U-19s for the first-phase qualifiers for the UEFA U-19 Championship this month with games against Northern Ireland, Italy and Moldova.
October 04: Remarkably enough this weekend's international break has won the approval of Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell. Blackwell has had plenty to say against such weekends in the past as Leeds have come out of them with players injured and winning runs halted, but now he's happy for his players to get a bit of a break. He said: "We looked tired against Watford on Saturday and the fact is we are playing too many games crammed into such a short time... We've been putting too much stress on the players - we are overloading their bodies too much - it's a joke." Blackwell went on: "I am going to give the lads three or four days where I don't want to see them and they don't want to see me. We have one or two players who are carrying little niggles so hopefully we can clear those up over this two week break."
October 04: Kevin Blackwell's worst fears were realised when the results of Richard Cresswell's scan revealed a ruptured knee ligament. Cresswell now faces three months out - realistically a New Year return is the earliest we can hope for. Blackwell said: "Richard is absolutely distraught at the moment because he's not been injured for five or six years then he comes to Leeds and then three weeks into his career he's done his knee in. The important thing for Richard now is that he comes to terms with the fact that he's going to be out for a while and doesn't try and rush things." On the positive side, Blackwell's ever-so-slightly criticised striker-buying policy now looks like a bit of forward-thinking genius.
October 04: The reserves went down 1-3 at home to Wolves tonight despite fielding quite a few first-teamers. Dan Harding, Danny Pugh, Rui Marques, Robbie Blake, Ian Moore and Ian Bennett all took the field, but Wolves had a few experienced players of their own with Ioan Ganea opening the scoring inside 20 minutes. Blake equalised for Leeds 10 minutes before the break after linking with Ian Moore, and although Leeds created more openings throughout the game, poor finishing and poor defending combined to allow Wolves to score twice in quick succession with 15 minutes to go to seal the points.
October 03: Kevin Blackwell has blamed the dour display on Saturday on the pitch at Vicarage Road. He said: "That was the worst pitch I have seen in the Championship for many, many years. There's grass on it but it's covering a multitude of sins. None of the players felt they could play on it and that went for the Watford lads as well, it was very difficult to play any sort of football. You would get one or two passes and then the third pass was up around your ankles, it made for a game that you couldn't take risks in." He went on: "We did not expect a pitch like this, we went out for the warm-up and knew we would have to play the pitch and the conditions." But he was happy enough with the outcome: "If we are going to get out of the Championship there are days when you can play and days when you have to fight - this was one of the latter."
October 03: Eddie Lewis has rejoined the USA national side for this weekend's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. USA are already qualified, but Costa Rica do still have a chance to go through, and coach Bruce Arena is keen to use the game as a competitive test for his squad - as well as offering a fair chance to the other teams in the mix for the final qualifying spot. Lewis and the other European-based players will be released after the weekend game and will not be required for the final qualifier against Panama next week. Lewis said: "Costa Rica away have to win to qualify, so in all honesty I think it will be a very difficult game and it's going to be a massive challenge to hold them off. Obviously the pressure of qualifying is off us but it's a big game for the new guys that are coming into the squad."
October 03: Kevin Blackwell might not be getting the regular glut of goals that he might have expected after spending so much money on forwards, but he's very happy that the team are tight art the back. He said: "That's seven out of eleven games now we've kept a clean sheet in and that's not bad." Matthew Kilgallon reckoned he had a poor game at left back, but Blackwell praised the whole defence and added: "Matthew did quite well in spells but I know he's not a left-back. Stephen Crainey had been looking a bit tired after being out for 11 months, and Dan Harding has one or two things we have to sort out, but overall I am quite pleased."
October 03: Aaron Lennon has been called into the England U-21 squad to play Austria at Elland Road this week and Poland at Hillsborough next week. He's found himself with a regular place in the Spurs side after a glut of injuries cut down Martin Jol's room for manoeuvre, and has acquitted himself well in the high-flying team. He's joined in the U-21s by Scott Carson and James Milner, while Rio Ferdinand and Paul Robinson are in the senior squad along with the recalled Alan Smith as Sven struggles to solve his striking problem.
October 02: Leeds Ladies managed an excellent draw at home to Charlton this afternoon - holding the joint league leaders who had previously managed a 100% record. Leeds went behind early on, and in a tough game the visitors were reduced to 10 players with ten minutes remaining after Gemma Ritchie kicked out at Leeds striker Lucy Ward. Karen Walker secured the point for Leeds with a spot kick with five minutes remaining.
October 01: No goals to report from Vicarage Road today - with the keepers called into action just 3 times all game according to some statistics. I suppose a point away from home is not a bad thing, and if Rob Hulse hadn't used up all his good luck against Derby, maybe he'd have found the net rather than the woodwork with his shot halfway through the first period. It needed a good save from Neil Sullivan late on to keep the game all square from Ashley Young's header, and a harsher ref might have red-carded Sean Gregan for what seemed like a blatant tug on a Watford striker. Kevin Blackwell was happy enough though - he said: "It was hard-fought. There was not a lot of great football and it's a case of going home having not got beaten."
October 01: Mixed fortunes for Leeds old boys in today's games. Michael Ricketts continued his good scoring run with the opener for Cardiff against Luton. However the visitors hit back to take a 1-2 lead, and Ricketts twice failed to level the match when he had good chances. Andy Keogh also started off the scoring for Scunthorpe at home to Yeovil. Despite holding a two-goal lead after just 20 minutes, the home side ended up stumbling to a 3-4 defeat. Darren Huckerby started the scoring and played a key part in Norwich's 1-3 win at Brighton. Robbie Keane came off the bench to score and seal a startling turn-around 2-3 win for Spurs at Charlton after they had been 2-0 down.