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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

December 31: No time for news updates today I'm afraid - we'll catch up tomorrow. In the meantime let me wish you all a very Happy New Year - let's hope it brings lots of points, a bucketload of goals and promotion!

December 31: Matthew Kilgallon is hoping that he will be able to convince Hull boss Peter Taylor to pick him - when Taylor is wearing his other hat as England U-21 manager. The Leeds defender has been in the national squad, but isn't figuring at the moment, but he said: "Peter Taylor is the Under-21 manager and tomorrow I want to put in a performance so he hasn't forgotten me. I agreed with him when he didn't pick me because I wasn't playing well at that time. I've nothing against him and he did it right, but now I'm playing well I hope he sees that too. I'm happy with how I'm playing and hope he has been made aware of that, but we'll see what happens."

December 31: The transfer window reopens on January 1, so expect a month of madness as Leeds get linked with all and sundry, and press rumours surface about "unsettled" players at Elland Road pushing for a return to the Premiership before the start of next season. Norwegian defender Brede Hangeland says that a move to Leeds is still a possibility for him, but Kevin Blackwell is thought to be targetting a midfielder or two, with Derby's Tommy Smith high on the list of possibles. On the way out could be Sean Gregan and Ian Moore, both of whom are missing regular starts for the club. Michael Ricketts is also set to return unless Publicity Pete can find a few quid down the back of his sofa at Ninian Park.

December 30: Jamie McMaster has returned to Australia after leaving Aarhus in Denmark. McMaster has signed a short-term deal with A-League side Central Coast Mariners as they come up to the end of their season. Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said: "Jamie's been trialing with us for a little while now and he's looking sharper each time he takes to the training pitch. There's no doubting that the boy has got talent and adding him to our squad gives him the chance to show his home town just how capable he is."

December 30: Hull boss Peter Taylor says that he expects the Leeds fans to give Nick Barmby a hostile reception tomorrow - but they will be unfair to do so. After being Leeds' last real big money signing by Terry Venables, Barmby suffered a string of injuries and fell out of favour with Peter Reid and Eddie Gray before being offloaded to Hull. Taylor said: "I am sure Nick will receive some stick but it will not be deserved because it was through no fault of his own that he did not play very often for Leeds. He is a strong character and I am certain he will not be affected by any crowd reaction." Barmby himself said: "I am looking forward to playing Leeds because they are an ex-club. I enjoyed my time there but unfortunately it did not work out. Elland Road is a great stadium, has a great atmosphere and the fans are fanatical, just like ours are."

December 29: Kevin Blackwell says that luck was on his side as Leeds escaped with a narrow win and with the opposition missing a penalty for the second game in a row. Blackwell said: "You need Lady Luck to smile on you, you need to have the balls and the physical desire to have a fight if you need to, then you can win it by good football." He was pleased his players had come through a tough physical challenge, and said: "We've got skill as well with the likes of Eddie Lewis, David Healy and Robbie Blake, who can open people up. Even the ball boys are 6ft 4ins here and we had to stand up to it." Blackwell said that Neil Sullivan's save of Paul Gallagher's penalty was down to hard work and good preparation. He said: "We've got to give credit to the staff because we do work on teams, what they do and how they do it, and we knew Gallagher would take the penalty that side." Neil Sullivan added: "We'd looked at a couple that Gallagher's scored this season. He had two in the last game and scored one on either side, so it was just a bit of guess work, a bit of knowledge and a bit of luck." Although he admitted: "I can't take any credit for the penalty on Monday because it hit the bar and went out. Although it goes down as a miss I won't take the credit." Stoke assistant manager Jan de Koning was less happy with the result. He said: "There was only one team that deserved to win the game and that was us.. For the whole game we were better than Leeds - the only thing we didn't do was score the goal. Everyone at the club, the management, the players, are very disappointed."

December 29: Kevin Blackwell said that it was good that his players were back on a winning streak - but the hard work was still to come: "It's a positive start but we're only halfway through. We've got to make sure we deal with Hull on Saturday and then we'll look to the Plymouth trip. I'll tell you if it's been a good festive programme after Plymouth because it will be no good if we don't build on what we've achieved in our last two games. I suppose you could say that, on paper, Stoke away was perhaps the hardest, but then Hull or Plymouth could come and bite us on the bum. We've got to take the confidence forward from both wins this week, but we can't start planning too far ahead because that's when you get caught out. It's Hull next and we'll take it game by game."

December 28: The club reiterated that the visit of Hull on New Year's Eve would be an all-ticket game, with no matchday sales allowed. So get your order in tomorrow if you want to attend!

December 28: Kevin Blackwell pleaded with the fans to return to Elland Road as hordes of Leeds fans continue to vote with their feet and stay away from his side's promotion push - or watch it falter due to lack of funds. Blackwell said: "We want to reach the Premiership and both myself and the chairman think we can do it. We need to make some improvements to the squad next month, but I think the chairman is putting his money where his mouth is. The rest of us have to play our part. The more people we have coming through the gates, the more money we have coming into this club. I'd love to see the crowds rising and everyone getting behind us." He went on: "Bigger crowds mean greater purchasing power, and I feel a little bit aggrieved that our season so far hasn't brought more people through the gates."

December 28: Former Leeds youth player Tommy Knarvik has signed for newly-promoted Sandefjord in Norway. Knarvik's sole appearance for Leeds was as a sub in an FA Cup game against Pompey, and has been with Brann Bergen and Sogndal since returning to Norway in 2000.

December 28: Leeds are in competition with Boro for the signature of Celtic's out-of-favour Frenchman Didier Agathe. Gordon Strachan has shown little interest in using the player since taking over at Parkhead, and Kevin Blackwell is said to be ready to offer a deal involving a loan to the end of the season with a permanent move an option if things work out.

December 28: In tonight's games, we saw Darren Huckerby struck for Norwich as they continued a mini-revival with a 2-1 win over Burnley. Warren Feeney bundled one in from close range on the stroke of half-time to put Luton 2-0 up over Brighton on their way to a 3-0 win over Brighton. Nick Barmby scored his fifth goal of the season as Hull beat Ipswich 2-0.

December 27: In action from yesterday's games, Clarke Carlisle doubled Watford's advantage just before half-time, scrambling the ball home from close range as Adie Boothroyd's team got back on track with a 3-0 win over Southampton. Robbie Keane struck from the spot after being fouled by Matthew Upson to put Spurs in front on their way to a 2-0 win over Brum. Clyde Wijnhard scored a goal either side of the break as Macclesfield trounced 10-man Stockport 6-0. Rio Ferdinand set up Paul Scholes for ManU's first, then headed one for himself as they went on to beat West Brom 3-0. Lee Bowyer once again made the headlines for the wrong reasons, picking up a red card for a foul on Xabi Alonso - although a closer look at the replay would seem to indicate it was more mistiming than malice, and that Peter Crouch was exceptionally lucky not to follow Bowyer down the tunnel for his actions in the ensuing handbags.

December 27: Richard Cresswell says that yesterday's goal has helped ease the pain of being on the sidelines for so long. He said: "This is what I live for: playing football and doing the business. Everyone has ups and downs - injuries are the major downs when you are a footballer - but days like yesterday make it all worthwhile."

December 26: Leeds assistant boss Sam Ellis praised the character of the squad as the team bounced back from successive defeats with a 3-1 win over Coventry. He said: We believe the character of our squad is the best base we have to work from, and that proved it, coming so soon after their equaliser. It is the third time we have been pegged back and gone on to win at home and it was a tough game today. I'm pleased with the whole squad, they all played their part."

December 25: By the time you read this, it should be Christmas Day. So let me wish you and yours all the very best for the festive season, and fingers crossed for a happy and promotion-filled New Year. No news updates tomorrow - I'll be too busy trying to persuade young Lucas to play with his new toys rather than the wrapping paper.

December 24: As if he hasn't had enough injury problems to contend with so far this season, Kevin Blackwell faces the Boxing Day clash with Cov deprived of the services of Frazer Richardson with a knee ligament problem, and with Rob Hulse still in doubt for the whole season never mind the next game with his hip injury. Simon Walton and Liam Miller are suspended, so it will be down to Blackwell to shuffle the pack again and end the two-game losing streak against Micky Adams' in-form Sky Blues.

December 24: David O'Leary says that Villa need to hang on to their Leeds loanee Eirik Bakke. The Norwegian's loan spell ends in January, but O'Leary wants to keep the player for at least the remainder of the season. He said: "We badly need Eirik until the end of the season. Look at our numbers. It would be a major blow if we don't have him for the second half of the season. We have to sort it out with Leeds but I can't see that being a problem. He is coming on all the time. What he has needed is a sustained run of games after a long time out injured."

December 23: Brian Deane has returned from his less-than-successful spell with Perth Glory in Australia, and now finds himself back at Sheffield United to help in their promotion push. Deane trained with the Blades last week and has now signed to the end of the season. Neil Warnock said: "He was thinking about packing in altogether but I feel he may be able to help us in certain games. He'll spend the next week or so getting fully fit and he should be available to us early in the New Year. This signing doesn't mean I'm not trying to bring anyone else in. I still have several other targets that I'm chasing ."

December 22: Jermaine Wright struck a cracker from 20 yards for the reserves as they drew 2-2 with Newcastle at South Leeds Stadium. Wright scored after quarter of an hour to give Leeds the advantage, and that lead lasted until the half hour mark when Michael Chopra equalised for the Magpies. Simon Walton set up Ben Parker to put Leeds back in front just five minutes later, but that advantage lasted barely two minutes before Simon Madden turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Chopra.

December 22: Liverpool's ex-Leeds star and winner of "Dodgiest Barnet" award Harry Kewell says that he was hurt by criticism of his performance in the European Cup Final. With Liverpool trailing, and after doing almost nothing for the first quarter, Kewell hobbled off with an apparent groin injury, much to the delight of many of the travelling support, who had grown increasingly exasperated with his failure to establish himself since his "dream move" from Elland Road. Kewell said: "Everybody thought I had thrown it in. I could not believe the reaction from some people. I did not realise there were so many qualified doctors watching the match. My groin just snapped. Some were saying my heart wasn't in it or I just wanted to go off." And Kewell said that he was the nominated penalty-taker for that game, adding: "Why would I want to walk off in a game when I had a real chance of getting on the scoresheet?" Why indeed Harry? Probably because the Liverpool fans saw your clear lack of commitment to your club in the dark days at Leeds, and have yet to see you make a tackle, break into a sweat or do anything else that might make the sixty-odd grand a week pay packet seem remotely like value for money.

December 22: Kevin Blackwell says that he's keeping his fingers crossed that the Manchester United injury list does not get extended over the holiday period. If they come through this run of games with no additional injury worries, there's a chance that Blackwell will get an extension agreed for Liam Miller's loan spell - but if the physio's appointment book fills up at Old Trafford then the Irishman might find himself recalled as cover for Fergie's squad. Blackwell said: "We've had a slight discussion, and we agreed something prior to Liam coming. I think he's enjoying it here but the Christmas period is coming up and we've got four games in seven days. They've got the same. Come January 4, when his loan's up, we'll see what materialises."

December 21: Steve Stone's third op on his Achilles problem could see the midfielder finally forced to call time on his career. After failing to even make the bench for Leeds since signing in the summer, Kevin Blackwell said that the latest op didn't augur well for Stone's future: "In my mind, I've had to write him off for the rest of the season. There's a possible career-threatening situation here. There's no timescale."

December 21: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that he's pretty pleased with the side's progress so far this season - despite the recent blips against Cardiff and Wolves. He said: "I'm realistic about what's still to come this season, but this is the sort of solid base I wanted us to build. The lads have done reasonably well, and I don't think any of us would shout too loudly about what we've achieved, but before the season started I'd have been happy to reach December inside the top 10. That to me would have been a big plus, but we've far exceeded that target." Blackwell hit out at the critics who say that - given what he's spent - the team should be cruising at the top of the pile rather than battling to stay in the play-off places. He said: "People are asking why we're not running away with the league, but there's no shortage of quality at Wolves or at a lot of the other clubs below us. It frustrates me when we don't win, but would our supporters have settled for third place at Christmas? I think they would." And he hinted at possible movements in January: "When I look at my squad, I've got no complaints. There's talent here and all we're lacking is a little bit of depth, but the transfer window's about to open and we'll see what's out there. The massive bonus for me is that I don't have to sell any of my players or watch my back for offers coming in from other clubs. I've been used to letting people go left, right and centre but things are different now."

December 20: Rui Marques has been called into the Angolan training camp ahead of their World Cup campaign next year. Coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves will be gathering his players in Spain for preparations and ginal squad decisions, and despite the fact that Marques has only made one appearance for his club, it seems he could get the chance to appear in the World Cup Finals next summer!

December 19: Rob Hulse could miss the rest of the season unless his hip problem improves soon. Hulse has been playing through the pain for several weeks, and the injection that was supposed to alleviate the worst of the pain didn't do enough to allow him to even make it to the bench on Saturday. Now it looks like the player and boss Kevin Blackwell will be forced to make the decision to go for an op sooner rather than later, and accept that Hulse might not see action until the season is all but over. Blackwell said: "He was desperate to try and play on Saturday but he just couldn't make it. We have to leave things in the hands of the medical people, the specialist will be in touch with Dave Hancock this week and we'll see what develops. At the moment the situation does not look too good."

December 19: Kevin Blackwell is still unclear what is happening with some of the loans in and out of the club when the transfer window opens. Eirik Bakke is at Villa until January, and although he has started getting a regular place in the squad after recovering from injury, a change of manager at Villa Park might see his hopes of an extension evaporate. As for Liam Miller, who might not be "the next Roy Keane" as he was once trailed but has nonetheless impressed in midfield since his arrival at Elland Road, that's dependent on Blackwell having a chat with Fergie. Definitely not coming - according to the player - is Derby's Tommy Smith. He said: "I've got 18 months left on my contract and I'm very happy here. It is always nice to be linked with other teams that are doing well, but all I'm looking forward to is working hard, doing as well as I can at Derby."

December 19: Liam Miller picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at the weekend, so he joins Simon Walton - courtesy of his double-yellow dismissal - on the sidelines for the Boxing Day visit of Coventry City.

December 18: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell jumped to the defence of dismissed youngster Simon Walton. Walton was already on a yellow when he committed a fairly basic barge off the ball on a player who was going past him. But Blackwell said: "I'm disappointed with the decision and think a lot of people were surprised by it. It seemed harsh and the kid is absolutely distraught. He's proud to be a Leeds player and he takes it to heart."

December 18: Not many old boys on target this week: Gary Speed struck from the spot for Bolton's third of four unanswered goals at Everton. Robbie Keane opened the scoring for Spurs at the Riverside, but a topsy-turvy game ended all square at 3-3.

December 17: Kevin Blackwell has told Jermaine Wright that he has the same chance as anybody else of getting into the side. After the midfielder returned from his loan spell at Millwall, Blackwell said: "Jamma is back with us now and he's returned to a vastly different club to the one he left. We're fourth in the league and the gauntlet is there for anyone to stake their claims. Jamma is the same as everyone else. He's in the squad and it's down to him to see how he does." Wright is happy to be back. He said: "It's good to be back here. At the time I wanted to go and play some games, I'd done pre-season and things didn't go to plan. The gaffer brought in a loan player so it was clear I wasn't going to play, and I didn't want reserve team football at that stage of the season. It was better all round that I played some games."

December 16: Ken Bates has got his pound of flesh from every Leeds fan's favorite paper, The Mirror. The red-top suggested that the chairman had walked out of the Southampton game because Leeds were three goals down - but in fact he was leaving early after Saints chairman Rupert Lowe told him that was the only way he'd make it to the airport in time for his flight. After a flurry of solicitors' letters, today's paper carries a correction and an apology, with the paper also saying sorry for hinting that Bates had missed "most" games this season.

December 16: Shaun Derry has told manager Kevin Blackwell that he'll be fit and ready for tomorrow's trip to Wolves. Derry picked up a hamstring injury against Millwall, and it was touch and go whether or not he'd be ready to return until the New Year, but Derry said: "I'm 10 days ahead of schedule and that's good because I want to play a part again. But you have to be careful because I don't want to come back too early and end up missing more games." He added: "I always want to play and I hate missing games, but the older you get the more sensible you become. A few years ago I'd have been back after two days! I think you have to be sensible. I'm keen to play, but we'll see how it is tomorrow."

December 16: Tommy Smith was today identified as the Derby player who Leeds might be interested in should Sean Gregan go the other way. But Kevin Blackwell says that nobody from the club has been in contact with Derby - although should Rams boss Phil Brown express an interest in a fringe player like Stephen Crainey or Ian Moore, Blackwell may be tempted to allow them to move to give him some leeway when the transfer window opens.

December 15: Clyde Wijnhard netted twice for Macclesfield in Tuesday night's 4-2 LDV win over Cambridge. David Wetherall scored a rare goal for Bradford, giving them a 3-2 lead against Barnsley in their FA Cup Round 2 replay with 15 minutes remaining. But the visitors - including Jacob Burns in midfield - came back to equalise and then win the tie 3-5 in extra time to secure a Round 3 tie with Walsall. Finally, Rio Ferdinand opened the scoring last night as Fergie's mob hammered Wigan 4-0 at Old Trafford.

December 15: Dan Harding has not chipped a bone in his foot as was first feared. The left-back was examined by a specialist and told that he was in the clear after failing to complete the defeat by Cardiff on Saturday. Blackwell said: "Dan is okay. It is just heavy bruising on the front of his shin. There is no fracture, which is what we had been fearing." However the defender is't completely out of the woods: the bruising is so bad that he might miss Saturday's trip to Wolves.

December 15: Richard Cresswell returned to competitive action last night as the reserves ran out 2-1 winners over Sunderland. Stephen Crainey, Rui Marques, Ian Moore and Danny Pugh were also in action, making it one of the more-experienced reserve sides to have appeared for some time. Cresswell lasted to half-time, when he was withdrawn to keep him fresh for a likely return to the first team at Wolves on Saturday. Nick Gray and Jonathan Howson scored for Leeds, but Simon Madden picked up an injury early on, and his replacement Phil Stansfield didn't last to the end of the match, being replaced after a collision with his own keeper.

December 15: Shaun Derry is set to return to the squad after a two-game absence with a hamstring problem. Frazer Richardson would seem to be the obvious replacement for the suspended Gary Kelly - although Richardson is carrying a knee injury sustained in training, so Rui Marques is also in the frame, hence his start at right-back for the reserves last night (before injuries caused a major defensive reshuffle). Of course the great unknown is Jermaine Wright: he's been a regular while on loan at Millwall so won't be short of match fitness. The big question is: does Kev trust him to take his chances and deliver the goods on Saturday? Wright was totally anonymous when Leeds travelled to Molineux last season and a repeat of that performance would blow any hopes he might harbour of a return as a regular.

December 15: Sean Gregan is the subject of transfer interest from Derby - most likely as a season-long loan once the transfer window opens. Leeds are interested in a Derby player according to Rams boss Phil Brown, and although they would want a fee for him, some compromise might be in order if Gregan or another Leeds star can be persuaded to switch to Pride Park. Gregan has dropped down the pecking order after starting the season as a defensive regular alongside Paul Butler, and his static display in midfield against Cardiff drew widespread abuse from the fans. Kevin Blackwell talked up the player and defended him: "Sean has had a lot of unnecessary grief since he came to Leeds, and that baffles me. He did exceptionally well last season and this year, Greges and Paul Butler were the platform for us." But the manager hinted that his days were numbered, saying: "I value Sean as a good member of the squad. However, I do understand that he wants to play regular football. I have to look at everything on its merits and will deal with everything as I see fit. At this stage I am not aware that either Derby or Hull have made their interest known so I am treating it as speculation. If anything comes up, both Sean and I will discuss the situation as and when."

December 14: Leeds hitman Rob Hulse isn't letting his recent failure to find the net get him down. He said: "I have gone through a little spell of not scoring but to be honest it hasn't really worried me too much because I think I've done well as a team player. I've linked up well and created chances for other people. Obviously I would like to get a goal and I am desperate to be scoring because it starts to become a monkey on your back and everyone keeps mentioning it." He went on: "There are times when I have been a bit unlucky because I've hit the post, the bar and had a couple ruled offside - one of which wasn't - and sometimes you do have these patches. When I was younger I might have worried about it but I am at the stage now where that's not the only thing I give the team, I don't just get picked for my goals, but obviously I'll always be there trying to nick one."

December 13: Latest transfer gossip connects us with Amica Wronki centreback Jaroslav Bieniuk, with Leeds ready to pay half a million for the Polish international. Kevin Blackwell was also so impressed with Jason Koumas at the weekend that he's willing to splash out twice as much to make Cardiff's on-loan Baggie an offer to make a permanent switch to Leeds. Finally the two triallists don't look like they've made much of an impression and are set to be released.

December 12: Rob Hulse was today due to head down to London to see a specialist to try to take some of the pain away from his hip injury. The intention is to give Hulse an injection to reduce the pain and allow him to continue to play until Richard Cresswell is fully fit and once the Christmas rush is over, at which point he is likely to need an operation to clean it up. Hulse said: "I have torn my capsule in my hip and we will see if the injection is able to settle things down a bit. The specialist seemed quite positive about it so I am not too worried. Hopefully I will be lucky and I will be alright for this busy Christmas period."

December 12: Gary Kelly's yellow card on Saturday was his fifth of the season, so he will miss the Wolves game through suspension. Dan Harding is a doubt for the game after leaving the field early on Saturday: he picked up a foot injury which could be a chipped bone. All will be revealed in a scan today.

December 12: Kevin Blackwell slammed everything bar his own team selection and tactics after this weekend's defeat by Cardiff. Despite being outnumbered in midfield for the majority of the game, Blackwell didn't see where the defeat had come from: "The frustrating thing is we don't know where that performance came from. That won't get you promotion that's for sure, and I won't say the players were looking jaded or anything because there are no excuses. We were rubbish from start to finish. They have been playing well and collectively as a unit it's very rare to see them all have an off day. I thought our passing was poor, our movement was poor, the hunger wasn't there. Everything that can be poor in the game we saw from Leeds on Saturday." Blackwell is adamant that he isn't going to let it happen again. He said: "I am not having teams like Cardiff coming to Elland Road and being the better side. To say I am disappointed is an understatement. We are back at work this morning and will make sure we are better than that." Blackwell added that none of the players were worthy of the man of the match award - so he suggested it go to the club mascot, Lucas the Kop Cat - "at least he did his job".

December 11: Jermaine Wright has come to the end of his loan spell at Millwall after Saturday's defeat by Coventry, and he is now expected to return to Throp Arch for training on Monday. Kevin Blackwell said: "We're about to hit a very busy Christmas period and it might be a good time to have Jermaine back becasue we need the numbers. Last week we picked up a couple of injuries and a couple of suspensions and we were really down to just 16 first team players left at the football club. He's been playing regularly so he'll be coming back to us match fit and he'll be in contention. Jermaine has to come back here and give everything he's got, it's as simple as that. He knows it's going to be tough for him to come back into a side that's been winning, but I am sure he will have benefited from playing week in and week out."

December 11: Michael Bridges followed up his last-minute strike in midweek with another goal for Carlisle yesterday. Bridges headed Carlisle level at Peterborough late in the game, and almost managed to win it as time ran out. Boston were a man down and a goal down when Noel Whelan similarly rescued a point for them at Shrewsbury with just 1 minute on the clock. Finally former Leeds youngster Craig Farrell scored the only goal of the game on half time to keep Exeter in touch with the Conference leaders as they beat Scarborough.

December 10: Leeds slumped to a first home defeat since the end of Septmber in what one seasoned observer described as "one of the five worst games I've ever seen". Jason Koumas knocked in a free kick on the half hour to bag the points for a side that had been riddled wth doubt and a stomach bug to boot! Cardiff boss Dave Jones said: "We had a real scare because Neil and Cameron were ill. Neil had been up all night and was worse than Cameron but he is an old pro and was determined to play."Kevin Blackwell held up his hands and said: "That was maybe our worst performance for two months. Collectively we were poor and we have let ourselves down. We were not creative enough or bright enough to beak them down."

December 09: Kevin Blackwell has revealed that Steve Stone might not play a single game for the club this season. A Pompey-supporting mate of my says "Well duh!". After picking up an achilles problem in the summer, Stone had an op that caused even more problems and any hope of a return in January has now evaporated. Blackwell has a pair of foreign triallists in to offer some width on the right, and he said that the situation for Stone did not look good: "The prognosis on Steve Stone is still not brilliant, so work has to go into filling that position. I hope he will play again but it is a situation I find bizarre. It was supposed to be a six-week job after the operation, but it is 21 weeks now and he is still in plaster. He has a low-grade infection and the wound will not heal because of that infection. If we can get rid of the infection, it could then take eight weeks to get fit." Blackwell added: "Steve is down and thoroughly frustrated. He came here to play, but has done only half-an-hour's training and it is difficult to feel part of it all in the dressing-room."

December 09: Kevin Blackwell says that Peter Ridsdale shouldn't carry the can alone for Leeds' fall from grace. Blackwell said: "If it was not for Peter Ridsdale I would not be here so I will warmly shake his hand. It is ironic that another man's misfortune is another's opportunity. As soon as the door slammed in his face it opened in mine, so I can't knock him. The crying shame is that the club was in such good shape, they were looking to be the team of the decade and then poor decisions were made, not just by Peter Ridsdale." Well I know a few people who would like to shake Ridsdale warmly by the throat - and as for door-slamming...

December 09: Rob Hulse will have to play on through the pain for a few more weeks: Kevin Blackwell has said that Hulse's stomach problem will have to wait for an operation until Richard Cresswell returns to the side to offer some much-needed cover up front. Blackwell said: "Rob will be nursed through game by game and once we have Richard Cresswell back we will allow him to have certain things sorted out with his stomach. We will lose him for a while but if I can get Richard back that will take the load off him." Cresswell's comeback is ahead of schedule, and he is likely to continue to prove his fitness with the reserves against Sunderland next week.

December 08: To gasps of horror and amazement from Leeds fans everywhere, it has been announced that the FA Cup tie at Wigan early next month will kick off at 1300 rather than 1500. Well there's a surprise - Lancashire Police making sure we don't do anything nasty and potentially riotous like grabbing a pie and a pint before the game. Of course, with 24-hour opening now allowed in pubs across the country, their rationale for shifting games like this does seem to have an even more slender grip on reality than normal!

December 08: Kevin Blackwell asked Leeds fans to ignore the presence of arch-villain Peter Ridsdale on Saturday and concentrate on getting behind the team as they take on Cardiff. Blackwell said: "Whatever is said on Saturday will not change anything and that's why I'd ask the fans to get behind the team. We don't need any distractions from what we are trying to do here. It doesn't matter who is coming to Elland Road on Saturday and who isn't." He went on: "I understand the feelings of the people, but there's nothing anyone can do about it now... This is a new era for the football club and we don't want any distractions."

December 07: The Football League reckon that the likes of Eddie Lewis will still be available for the play-off final (unless of course we're already up!) despite what the FIFA top brass had to say about World Cup preparations yesterday. General Secretary Urs Linsi said that any player named in a World Cup squad would not play in any post-season games bar the Champions League final. However the Football League say that there is "an understanding" between FIFA and the FA that players involved in the play-offs would not have an enforced rest after all. I'd like to see that "understanding" on paper - and double-check there's not the usual "apart from Leeds" clause.

December 07: David Healy's late winner against Millwall has been reclassified as an own goal by Ben May. The Football League announced the decision today, so that takes Healy back down to 8 goals for the season - level with fellow striker Rob Hulse.

December 07: Kevin Blackwell says that he has no concerns about the fact that his contract with the club expires in the summer, and has no serious problems with waiting a while before looking to negotiate an extension. He said: "I know it's running out, I have about six months left, but I want what is right for Leeds. Hand on heart, I can say that if I have just done the job to turn it around and someone else takes over because that's what's best for Leeds, then I can walk away with my head held high. It's not what I want to do - I want to be here for a long time - but I think too many people in football think too much about themselves and not about the football club and the fans. I care about what I do here and I believe I have put some heart back into this club and we have a team that is going to do well." And he had the inevitable praise for the chairman: "Ken Bates has been around football at the highest level for about 30-years and I always felt that when he came in if I was to have a future at the top management level then there is no better sorcerer than Ken Bates, and if I can impress him then I can impress anyone. People were sceptical about whether I would survive very long and I am glad to prove people wrong."

December 07: Peter Ridsdale has said that he will return to Elland Road as Cardiff deputy chairman at the weekend - but Leeds won't be rolling out the red carpet, nor will any extra security be laid on. CEO Shaun Harvey said: "We can confirm that contrary to speculation there are no specific arrangements to be put in place for Saturday's game. The standard arrangements that are offered to all visiting directors will be in place as they usually are." Good. Ridsdale wasted enough of our money when he was in charge - and if someone wants a "quiet word" with him on Saturday then he can take his chances and defend his record.

December 06: The FA Cup 3rd Round tie with Wigan will be played on Saturday 7 January, it was confirmed today. KO is currently 3pm - but wait for the police to change their minds three times before booking your train tickets, with match tickets very reasonably priced at £17 for adults, £12 for OAPs and a fiver for kids. The replay will be on Tuesday 17 January if needed.

December 06: Simon Walton was pleased to get a run out as a first team player again at the weekend after falling down the pecking order with the new arrivals in the summer. He said: "I feel I did quite well and with the result going for us too I don't think it could have been any better for me... It has been frustrating but the team has been doing well and that's made it extra hard for me to get back in. I've had my chance and I would like to think I grabbed it with both hands and you never know what will happen next week. It's down to the manager now what happens, I know there are players to come back into the team and it would be naive of me to think I will be straight in this week. It was just good to get out there and get a game again."

December 06: Kevin Blackwell is looking at yet another foreign winger: Slovakian Scrabble nightmare Srebrenko Posavek has joined Patrik Anttonen on trial for a week as the manager makes his mind up over what to do when the transfer window reopens at the end of the month.

December 06: Richard Cresswell was due to join the foreign triallists and other assorted first-teamers and reserves in a behind-closed-doors match at Thorp Arch today. Cresswell is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee ligament injury, and is hoping to get back into the squad sooner rather than later. He said: "It's been frustrating because I've usually played 50 games a year without any problems so to come to a new club and get injured was very disappointing. But, all being well, I'm on my way back now and I shouldn't be too far away. Last weekend was too soon, but we'll see how things go this week." With Rob Hulse struggling with a stomach problem, Cresswell's return can't come a moment too soon as the squad gear up for a vital run of games over the festive period.

December 05: Matthew Kilgallon says that Leeds can close the gap on the top two as they recorded their fourth win in a row. He said: "We're third now and that's a nice feeling. Every other result went for us at the weekend and we're closing the gap and keeping the pressure on. There are loads of games left and if we can keep this run going there's no reason why we can't catch the sides above us."

December 05: Swedish winger Patrik Anttonen is to become the latest foreign hopeful to have a trial at Elland Road. He's currently got a year left on his contract at Orebro, and said: "I'll practice with them Monday to Friday and then see Saturday's game against Cardiff. I am planning to stay with Orebro until something more interesting comes along and this is definitely more interesting."

December 05: Lamine Sakho could be set for a shock return to English football - and the top flight at that. Wigan boss Paul Jewell is having a look at the St Etienne player who impressed on first sight at Elland Road but rapidly saw his star fade in the eyes of the management and fans as the team slid to relegation.

December 04: Ken Bates says that he will ban for life any Leeds fan who could be proved to have broken the silence for George Best at Millwall last week. After issuing a formal apology from the club, Bates said: "Taking action is not easy but we asked Millwall if they can identify any of the morons. If they can, then some people have watched their last Leeds game, home or away."

December 04: Leeds are being linked with a move for Villa's former ManU midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba. The Cameroonian international is yet another of David O'Leary's failures, and although he has hinted at a return to France, Villa may prefer to offer him to Leeds in exchange for an extension of Eirik Bakke's loan.

December 04: Leeds have been drawn away at Wigan in the FA Cup 3rd Round. The tie will be played on January 7 next year - unless it gets shifted for Sky. One of the big highlights of the draw sees non-league Burton Albion fighting Burscough in a replay next week for the right to host Man U, and if DOL lasts long enough then his Villa side face a tough trip to Hull.

December 04: Andy Keogh had a simple tap-in on 14 minutes to grab the only goal of yesterday's cup tie between Aldershot and Scunthorpe. Clyde Wijnhard scored on the stroke of half-time and had another attempt disallowed as Macclesfield held Lincoln to a 2-2 draw. Marlon King scored just before the break for Watford, but he failed from the spot and that cost Watford 2 points that saw them drop behind Leeds into fourth spot as they drew 1-1 at home to Brighton. Robbie Keane scored for Spurs in their 3-2 win over Sunderland. Tony Hackworth got a consolation header for Scarborough in their 2-1 Conference defeat at Cambridge. Finally, Jamie Winter opened the scoring for Aberdeen from a set-piece as Gordon Strachan's former club gave his current charges a scare, but Celtic came back with three goals in eight minutes to win 1-3 at Pittodrie.

December 04: Totally forgot to mention last week: since the month is now over, I now need your votes for the November Player of the Month!

December 03: It looks like Kevin Blackwell has done enough to merit an extension to his contract at Elland Road. With his current deal up at the end of the season, Blackwell is on the point of opening negotiations with the board for an extension. He said: "My contract is up at the end of the season, but I would love to stay here beyond that. I'd like to lay my roots here."

December 03: Craig Levein was not happy with the officials after today's game - both with the winner and the subsequent dismissal of Patrick McCarthy. Levein said: "I am not condoning at all what Patrick McCarthy did. It was wrong to go running towards the linesman. The referee has reacted to something he has said and he deserves to go if that is the case. I have no complaints whatsoever with that. But the whole thing comes about because the linesman has made a big mistake and it has cost us." Kevin Blackwell sent coach John Carver into the press conference, and he said: "From where we were sitting in the dug-out we couldn't tell if the goal was offside. I'd need to see it on TV. But we didn't have what we thought was a penalty in the first half." And Carver had praise for the visitors: "In fairness them losing a guy inspired them and they went for it again. I'm very much surprised to see where Leicester are in the league, they are certainly one of the sides who can be in the top six."

December 02: Kevin Blackwell says that a play-off spot is not good enough for his team after a decent run of results has seen Leeds close the gap on Sheffield United and Watford. Blackwell said: "We are sitting fourth in the Championship but that is simply not good enough for Leeds United. There is a lot of pressure to get back in the Premiership and nothing else will do. You get nothing for what you do in November, I am not trying to be a pessimist but the fact is we have to keep everyone's feet on the ground because we have to grind out results and I want to keep doing it for another four or five months. If we are still in this position in May then I will say great, but at the moment it is just steady and we want to improve and there is plenty of room for improvement everywhere at this club, me the staff, the players, the fans even. If we don't set high bench marks then we should not be at this club and we are not achieving them at the moment but we are at least reaching the bar."

December 02: Richard Cresswell says that he could surprise everyone with an early return to the first team. Cresswell's ruptured ligament looked set to keep him out of action until the New Year, but now he says he could be fit in a fortnight. Kevin Blackwell said: "We had said Richard would be back near the new year but it looks as if he could be earlier than that now. We're monitoring him closely and we will not rush him back; we would rather have him for the rest of the season than lose him again."

December 01: Shaun Derry has been confirmed as a non-starter for the visit of Leicester on Saturday after going off before half-time at Millwall with a hamstring problem. Sean Gregan and Jonathan Douglas are banned after reaching 5 bookings, Gylfi Einarsson is out with a dislocated shoulder and there's still no sign of Steve Stone making his Leeds debut. So that probably means that Danny Pugh and Frazer Richardson will join Eddie Lewis in midfield, probably augmented by Simon Walton or David Healy depending on how adventurous Kev's feeling.

December 01: The Youth team had just 8 players on the pitch by the end of last night's game, but still only missed out by a single goal to holders Ipswich in the FA Youth Cup. Rob Bayley said something to upset the ref after Ipswich had taken the lead from the spot, and Gavin Rothery let his frustration get the better of him with a challenge from behind that saw him red-carded ater an earlier yellow. Jonathan Lund had performed heroics between the sticks, but late on he dislocated his shoulder and had to leave the field when Leeds had already used up all three subs, and despite the three-man advantage, Ipswich failed to extend their lead.

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