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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

March 31: Kevin Blackwell says he won't be turning his team upside down as he searches for a formation that can bring three points back from Hull on Saturday. The manager said: "I know where my concern is right now, I had three forwards on the bench last weekend and I have tried to change it but we are just short of something. Gary Kelly's shot the other day that just missed, if that had gone in it would have been what we were looking for, and if a goal had gone in against Stoke we would have got three or four but it's just one of those things. If I could have signed anybody on loan last Thursday it would have been lady luck and if she had smiled on us we would have got a scrappy goal but it would have been what we needed."

March 31: Hull City supremo Adam Pearson said that he was hoping for a trouble-free fixture when Leeds come calling - and that good behaviour from the fans this time round will lead to a less heavy-handed approach by the police next season (assuming we're still in the same division!). He said: "We need to get back to 10 per cent allocations, people being able to have a drink if they want one and sing if they want to. We decided to give them 10 per cent on Saturday in the hope that they will return to favour next time at Elland Road. A lot will be down to the West Yorkshire police but if it goes off trouble-free, hopefully common sense will prevail next year." Full marks to the chairman: he's obviously still got a soft spot for us from his days at Elland Road, but from a commercial and pragmatic viewpoint he knows what's best for the club and the fans.

March 31: There's a flu bug doing the rounds at Thorp Arch - and Kevin Blackwell is hoping that his players will manage to avoid coming down with it. Gylfi Einarsson has already succumbed and Sean Gregan is also suffering. Blackwell said: "We sent Sean home earlier this week so we'll see how he is. There's still a couple of days to go, and he was feeling it last Saturday, so we are very hopeful he'll be okay for the weekend. Gylfi has suffered with the problem as well and when he returned to training he was shattered, so it's just a case of keeping an eye on people."

March 31: A very young reserve side won their second game in a week last night with a 1-0 win over an equally inexperienced Blackburn outfit. Simon Walton was the only real name in the frame, and he played well at the back. Simon Madden scored the only goal of the game halfway through the second half to seal the win for Leeds.

March 31: Steve Stone has finally kicked a football again - and remains hopeful that he might still be fit to put in an appearance in a playoff game if we fail to grab second spot. Kevin Blackwell said:"It's a great sign to see Steve running around and he has done a couple of marathons this week, so he is getting fitter and it's good to see him back. I think it's too early to speak about him playing this season. From day one I said I would not put him under any pressure and if he comes back then great, at the moment it's just good to see him with his boots on."

March 31: Robbie Blake reckons that Leeds will need to win all six remaining games if the team is to have any hope of automatic promotion. He said: "We're six points behind Sheffield United as it stands and if they win three games and we were to win four that still wouldn't be enough. We have to be looking at winning all six. We've had a couple of good winning runs already this season so we know we are capable of doing it. It's going to be tough, but we are good enough and if we can win all six that should do it." With tomorrow's match being a derby of sorts - and an early kick-off as well - Blake says it's important to get off to a good start, and adds: "I fancy us tomorrow and if we play well, and play to our ability, then there's no reason why we can't get the win. If we can do that, hopefully that will put pressure on Sheffield United when they kick off later in the day."

March 29: Kevin Blackwell says that people who criticise the side for falling away in the battle for automatic promotion should get real. He said: "Given everything that's gone on here over the past couple of years we probably shouldn't be where we are now... It's no good people moaning, but I accept the expectations. If I won the European Cup I'd be expected to go on and win the World Cup. These players have got us where we are at now. We're playing well enough, just without the cutting edge. We've come a long way to be in a position where we've tried to chase Sheffield United down. I've said all along there'll be twists and turns and I still think there will be." Hmmm...maybe. But the twists need to start with 3 points on Saturday...

March 29: Gary Speed is starting to think about his post-playing career: at 36, that's hardly surprising, so in the summer he will be working on his coaching badges. After appearing for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Wales he's certainly seen a lot of top flight football from one side of the whitewash, and he said: "I know that managing a club or country is a pressured job but I think my experience has prepared me for it. I wouldn't be a shouter or a bawler. I have worked under some great managers in my time and I think I would take a little bit from all of them - how to do things and how not to do them."

March 28: Robbie Keane helped Spurs come back from a one-goal deficit at home to West Brom in Monday night's Premier League match. Keane scored a cracking opener, then added the winner from the spot as the clock ran out to give Leeds' North London branch of ex-players the three points and the prospect of Champions League football next season.

March 28: Andy Gray scored his second goal in two games for Burnley, equalising Southampton's opener to grab a point that should ease any remaining fears over the drop. Brett Ormerod scored the only goal of the game to cement Preston's hold on a play-off place with a 1-0 win over Crewe. And with the big game coming up for Carlisle at the weekend (well, the LDV Trophy final....), Michael Bridges struck the bar then held off the defence to slot the ball home to give Carlisle a 1-0 win over Lincoln and leave them 6 points clear at the top with a massively superior goal difference.

March 27: Leeds reserves ran out 2-0 winners over Birmingham on Monday night. Fielding a strong line-up that included Frazer Richardson, Dan Harding, Matthew Kilgallon, Simon Walton, Eirik Bakke and Danny Pugh, it was new boy Jermaine Beckford who opened his account for Leeds, with Danny Pugh staking a claim for a first team recall with the other strike.

March 26: Andy Gray was on target on Friday night, making s successful start to his loan spell at Burnley with the goal that set them on the way to a 2-0 win over Norwich. Harry Kewell sealed Liverpool's win in the Merseyside derby, striking with 5 minutes to go to make it 3-1. Jamie Forrester was another loan debutant making a good first impression: his switch to Lincoln from Bristol Rovers paid dividends with a goal inside the first 20 minutes as the Imps hammered Grimsby 5-0. David Wetherall must have had a brief sense of deja vu when he produced an equaliser for Bradford - with an overhead kick no less - at the Bescot. Wetherall made it 2-2 to grab a share of the points: 11 years ago he saved Leeds' bacon with a late equaliser in the FA Cup at the same venue. Both of Boro's former Leeds strikers were on the scoresheet against Bolton today: JFH striking from the spot early in the first half, and then again at the start of the second period, with Mark Viduka adding one in between. Even so, it took a last-minute goal from Stuart Parnaby to ensure that Boro kept all three points at the Riverside.

March 25: Kevin Blackwell told his team that their starting places were not set in stone after yet another disappointing result at Elland Road today. With Sheffield United winning, Leeds are now 6 points off an automatic promotion spot with 6 games to go - although on the positive side, Watford lost at home to Millwall today so at least we didn't fall further behind them. Blackwell said: "Everyone has got to realise that no job is safe at the club - people need to step up to the plate for us now. But nothing is ever predictable, we've got a good result when you look at the other results around yet it doesn't feel like that. All we can do is keep going and stay focused on ourselves. There will be some twists and turns before the end of the season, we have still got to play Sheffield United remember. It's up to me to make sure we don't run out of steam. If you want that Premiership spot you need big balls and courage, what we have done so far is put ourselves in a great position to reach the Premier League." Stoke boss Johan Boskamp was equally unimpressed with his players - although his disinterest may reflect the fact that he's understood to be ready to walk out. Boskamp said: "We are happy with the result. Stoke have played better games than today. A point was good for us, but the way we played was not so impressive. We let them come at us and get crosses into the box, but luckily for us every loose ball fell to us and not for Leeds. I saw Leeds play against Coventry and it looks like they are having difficulties scoring goals and also today they didn't create so many chances."

March 24: Rob Hulse is expected to figure in the starting line-up despite breaking his nose against Palace on Tuesday night. Sean Gregan is back from his ban, but it will be a close call whether or not he wins a recall over Matthew Kilgallon - who also came out of the Palace game needing treatment, this time stitches in an eye wound. New signing Danny Graham, Jermaine Beckford and Joel Griffiths - fresh from scoring for the reserves - are also candidates for the squad. Luke 'Plug' Chadwick has flu and is a doubt for Stoke, with John Eustace and Kevin Harper long-term physio-botherers.

March 24: Michael Duberry says he has no regrets about his time at Elland Road as he returns to face Leeds with Stoke. He admits it wasn't all roses: "Ten percent of my time at Leeds was blotched, but the other ninety percent was quality." Duberry was the alleged target of a plot to drug, discredit and dismiss high-earning players: "It was like Footballers Wives. It was laughable. I haven't touched a bowl of pasta since! But the other side of it is, I could have been Michael Duberry, the unemployed footballer, who was accused of being a druggie." He said: "The one question I keep getting asked is do I regret joining Leeds - but I don't regret it all."

March 24: Danny Graham says that he intends to use Leeds' promotion push to advance his own case after finding his opportunities limited at the Riverside. He said: "There's seven games to try and push for promotion and I hope I can play a part and score a few goals. It's exciting. It's a great opportunity for me, and Leeds are on a good run so I'd like to help. I'll keep my head down, work hard and do my best." He added: "The facilities are the best in the Championship by a long way and the club has everything you need. Hopefully it's an opportunity for me to help Leeds get back where they belong."

March 23: Leeds reserves finally got a game last night after several games in a row were cancelled due to bad weather. The second string drew 1-1 with Manchester City, with Joel Griffiths on target for Leeds, cracking home a shot that brought the scores back level barely 2 minutes after City had scored their goal.

March 23: Forgotten man Rui Marques has been loaned out to Hull for the rest of the season - although he will be barred from playing against Leeds on April 1. The Angolan defender has barely had a look in this season despite various injuries and suspensions at the back and looks like he has no future at the club. Ian Moore must also be considering his options for the future after Kevin Blackwell signed yet another striker. Boro prospect Danny Graham has joined on loan for a month: he's a 20-year-old striker with limited opportunities to build on his handful of first-team appearances at the Riverside. He's been on loan at Darlo, and is a U-20 international. With Jermaine Beckford also in the squad and preferred to Moore, the ex-Burnley man must surely be planning a summer move away from the club to stand a chance of getting a game.

March 23: With the FA tribunal about to rule on Chelsea's snatching of Leeds youth team players Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods, the powers-that-be seemed to condone the move. The pair have been picked for he England U-16 side to play in a tournament in France next month, and the official letter listing the squad described them as Chelsea players. Not that this prejudges the tribunal of course: nobody has ever suggested that the FA could manage a consistent and coherent approach to any issue of consequence in football.

March 22: Kevin Blackwell says that the only thing stopping Leeds from winning the game last night was the inability to score. He said: "Apart from not getting the goal, I thought it was a good game and I thought we had enough possession. For me, it was the last third that was our problem. We dominated it for long spells and in the first half I thought we must have shaded possession, but they had the better chances. I don't think Sullivan had a save to make in the second half. For all the possession and pressure, we didn't create enough to really hurt them but it is just one of those days. The lads have given me everything and I can't complain."

March 22: Jermaine Beckford was more than a little surprised to find himself in last night's squad after Kevin Blackwell had indicated he would be brought on slowly. He said: "I was gobsmacked when I was told I was coming on, especially in front of all those people. I was happy enough to be on the bench, let alone playing. When I was on the sideline and I was coming on I couldn't hear anything from the crowd because I was totally focused on the game, then I had that chance and I heard them for the first time - it was amazing. It was a nice taster for myself just to see what it's like, I loved every second I was on the pitch."

March 22: Kevin Blackwell says that despite last night's setback, Leeds are still in with a shout of automatic promotion, and that any team could still grab second spot. "I have said from day one and particularly since Christmas there are so many twists and turns that you can't write anybody off - not with 15, 16 games to go. And sure enough with seven games to go we are right on the tails of Sheffield United, Watford are there, Palace are there so it's great, it's exactly what the Championship needs and I am glad we are part of that so we have got a chance to get in there." The doom-mongers have beenout in force since Tuesday's slip against Palace: while I'm not known for being the most positive person in the world, I would point to 1991-92 and remind people that twice during the run-in we conceded four goals away from home and looked to have blown our chances of the title. Despite the 4-1 defeat at Loftus Road and 4-0 hammering at Maine Road, the pressure got to our rivals as well and we ended up winning the League Championship. So don't despair....

March 21: Kevin Blackwell says that tonight's match against Palace will be a difficult one - but is crucial to win as the run-in gets tighter. He said: "It is certainly getting interesting. My players are very confident. It was never going to be a sprint." And Blackwell is fearing a backlash after Leeds nicked the points at Selhurst Park a couple of weeks ago: "We know they are they are a dangerous animal when they are wounded."

March 21: Cast your mind back a few years: a run of poor performances with seemingly well-paid players, rumours of disaffection in the dressing room and the fans being told that they know nothing when they dare to criticise another spineless defeat. Yep, DOL's repeating his performance at Leeds and after seeing his side hammered 4-1 by Everton on Saturday is said to have barely a month to save his job. Going out of the FA Cup to Man City last week wasn't the end of the world (although the Carling Cup dismissal by Doncaster nearly was), but Villa's league position of lower-mid-table mediocrity is the key factor here. Doug Ellis is not known for being one of those chairmen who give the manager a few years to sort things out, and after spending one large pile of cash it now seems likely that O'Leary won't be allowed to spend any more unless he can produce a remarkable turnaround from his current batch of players.

March 21: Kevin Blackwell said that tonight's match against Palace would be the tougghest game yet, with the prospect of second place and automatic promotion starting to become a reality. More importantly, a win would more or less guarantee a play-off spot: "My message to the players is that if we win it, it should be enough to guarantee us a place in the play-offs. That is the most important thing at this stage. We've worked hard to get where we are and we have to make that count. I'm not interested in where else it takes us right now - if we win our games and look after ourselves everything else will be taken care of." Blackwell stressed the importance of finally getting this fixture out of the way and joining the other leading contenders on 39 games: "We've waited a long time for this. This is our game in hand and it's a key match for us."

March 21: Leeds slumped to a home defeat tonight, handing the initiative back to Watford and Sheffield United in the promotion race. Palace ran at the Leeds back line and could have scored more with a couple of sharper finishes, but it was Job McAnuff who found himself with the time and space to open the scoring just before half-time. Kevin Blackwell gave a second-half debut to Jermaine Beckford as he searched for a goal, but nothing came and the points were lost. We still can control who gets second spot: if we beat Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, that could allow Adie Boothroyd's side to sneak up, and the failure to register any points tonight now means that a draw for Reading - or another failure to win for Leeds - will be enough to see the Royals guaranteed promotion.

March 20: Kevin Blackwell says that his side deserved more from Saturday's game at Coventry - despite the late late show from David Healy's spot kick that secured a single point. He said: "We thoroughly deserved the equaliser because in the second half we absolutely battered Coventry for nearly 45 minutes, first half was even-stevens but in the second half I thought we looked a strong side and played some good football. Coventry are a formidable side at home, Mickey Adams has them fired up and his players responded but we deserved something. We are playing better football now than we were at the start of the season, and that's conducive with the players gelling more and understanding each other. It was no good us just lumping the ball in because they had Shaw, Page and Hutchison sitting in there and it was never a battle we could have won aerially. The fact the goal came from a penalty disguises that we deserved more from open play and I would have thought their keeper got man of the match because he pulled off three or four great saves to keep them in the game." And he pointed to the most crucial fact of all: "Sheffield United came here last week and got beat, we haven't got beat and when it goes as late as that and you still haven't scored despite having dominating and are getting frustrated, to then come up with a penalty is terrific. These players will not give in and I think the Leeds fans should be proud of them because they are showing the commitment they demand. They will keep going and I think they deserve a lot of credit."

March 20: Matthew Kilgallon didn't have the most confident return to the side - but Kevin Blackwell says that he can understand why Killa didn't hit the ground running. He said: "The problem Matthew had is he hasn't played since the Wigan game and we had to throw him in at the deep end at probably one of the hardest places to go to right now, Coventry at home are a phenomenal team, but to be fair Killa has come out on top at the end."

March 19: It was an ex-Leeds 1-2 that gave Spurs their win at St Andrews last night: Aaron Lennon scored his first goal for the club, knocking home a cross from Jermain Defoe on 65 minutes. Robbie Keane added the second goal and sealed the points 12 minutes later. Mark Viduka continued his return to form with Boro, bringing them back on terms with Blackburn after they had conceded an early goal. It was all in vain though as the home side went on to win 3-2, despite losing wind-up merchant supreme Robbie Savage to (amazingly) his first ever domestic dismissal. Julian Joachim gave Boston the lead in their local derby with Lincoln, stabbing home a rebound on 26 minutes. Although the Imps equalised, a 94th-minute strike bagged the victory and Yellowbelly bragging rights for The Pilgrims. Michael Bridges added another goal to his increasing tally for Carlisle, helping them maintain their lead at the top of the table with one of five that the visitors managed at Darlo. Finally some old boy inaction: Nigel Martyn will be out for at least six weeks after an X-ray revealed he had a hairline fracture of his ankle. The 39-year-old has been out since January and is out of contract at the end of the season, although David Moyes didn't rule out an extension. He said: "I hope Nigel has not played his last game for us. He has done great for us."

March 19: Leeds United Ladies eased past Liverpool in today's FA Women's Cup semi-final at Guiseley and will now face Arsenal in the final - scheduled for Monday 1 May at the New Den, with live TV coverage on the BBC. Sue Smith put Leeds in front halfway through the firs half, and could have been further ahead by the break. Karen Walker then set Smith up for a second on the hour to seal the match and take Leeds through to their first final.

March 18: Kevin Blackwell was talking up Matthew Kilgallon's career potential ahead of the young defender's return to the side as a replacement for the suspended Sean Gregan. Blackwell said: "Killa has developed nicely. He's always had the potential to become a very good player." He went on: "When he came into the side in October he grasped the mantle and took his chance. His positional play has improved a lot and he's got all the right attributes to be a quality centre-back. The sky is the limit for Killa."

March 18: Kevin Blackwell said that despite the "controversy" (= "dead cert according to Sky Sports) surrounding the late penalty that bagged a point for Leeds, Kevin Blackwell insisted his side deserved the draw. He said: "Anyone who watched the game cannot say that we deserved at least a point. Coventry defended stoutly and their keeper made several good saves, but credit to the lads as they kept going. At one point we were 17 points off automatic promotion but now it is only four."

March 17: Danny Pugh has refuted claims that he plans to leave in the summer - despite the fact that he has yet to sign a new deal. Pugh said: "I'd love to stay here if I've got the chance to be more involved and play games. I was asked about my future last week and I'm a bit suprised that things have been interpreted the way they have. I've never said that I want to leave Leeds at the end of the season. This is a great club and I love it here, but I don't know what's going to happen. There's nothing more I'd like than to be a part of the side because I want to play games." Which is fair enough - the lad wants a regular place and it doesn't seem likely he'll get it at Elland Road and there has been interest from other clubs. Kevin Blackwell sympathises and isn't taking Pugh's attitude as a negative thing: "We've spoken to Danny and offered him a deal to stay, but he has decided to wait until the end of the season. It's no problem to me. Danny is a diamond of a lad and I can understand his sentiments."

March 17: Andy Gray's much-anticipated loan move away from Sunderland materialised today. But he's pitched up at Turf Moor not Elland Road! Gray was said to be a target for Kevin Blackwell, but it seems likely that Burnley offered him the chance to start more games than he would likely get at Leeds.

March 16: New signing Jermaine Beckford said that signing for Leeds was "a dream come true." Following in the footsteps of Wealdstone old boys Vinnie Jones and Stuart Pearce, Beckford says he's excited to have signed on at such a big club. He said: "I feel I can better myself here. I had a trial with Chelsea and I think they wanted me back, but this is a more realistic opportunity. If you ask any player at any level it's every boys dream to play professional football - and I'm a very lucky guy. I haven't stopped smiling since I signed. I'm going to try my hardest not to disappoint anyone."

March 15: Leeds have a new star striker! Jermaine Beckford has been banging them in for Wealdstone all season, and Leeds have beaten off interest from clubs all the way from Charlton to Barnet tosecure the 23-year-old's signature!

March 14: Jermaine Wright will see out the season at Southampton. The midfielder linked up with his former boss George Burley at the start of February and has started every game since making his initial one-month loan stint began.

March 14: Popular ex-Leeds defender Glynn Snodin has left Charlton after a six-year spell as reserve team coach and has joined Southampton as first team coach. Snodin said: "While Southampton are in a lower league, it's a great step for me in terms of first team coaching and that's the reason behind the move. Over the last six months or so I've had the feeling in the back of my mind that I wanted to challenge myself again - to see how far I can go."

March 14: Kevin Blackwell warned fans that the pre-season schedule was far from finalised, and folks who have already got their nice cheap Ryanair flights across the water to see the Whites play Drogheda in the summer might find that they need to change their travel plans. Speaking to the YEP, he said: "We haven't confirmed anything yet, and it'll be another couple of weeks before we start looking at pre-season. I have had a call from Drogheda about a possible friendly, but that's as far as it goes. At this moment in time we haven't confirmed anything and there's definitely nothing fixed up."

March 13: Leeds will return to Gary Kelly's home town of Drogheda in the summer for a pre-season friendly against FAI Cup winners Drogheda United. The tie will take place on Tuesday 18 July, with some of the proceeds going to the cancer charity Kelly set up after losing his sister to the disease.

March 13: The reserves once again are missing out on a game this week: tonight's visit to Morecambe to face Blackburn has now been put back due to the frozen pitch. Meanwhile Leeds Ladies' FA Women's Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Guiseley was postponed at the weekend with a similar problem and will now take place next Sunday.

March 13: 1970 was a bit of an annus horribilis for Leeds - defeat in the FA Cup Final replay to Chelsea, the European Cup semis to Celtic and just missing out on the league. Last week we said goodbye to Peter Osgood of Chelsea - a great striker who scored in every round of the cup, and even in that brutal replay at Old Trafford could be said to have been marginally less cynical than his team-mates. Osgood's talent and attitude lit up Stamford Bridge and ground around the country - and even brought a smile to a few Leeds fans' faces with his role in Southampton's 1976 FA Cup triumph over Man U. Today saw another one of our great opponents from that year pass away: Jimmy Johnstone, one of Celtic's Lions of Lisbon and voted their all-time greatest player by the fans died this morning after a long battle against Motor Neurone Disease. Johnstone went on to play for San Jose Earthquakes, Sheffield United, Dundee, Shelbourne and Elgin City before retiring from the game. After his diagnosis with MND - the disease which also claimed Don Revie - Johnstone campaigned for stem cell research and showed the same tenacity fighting the disease as he did on the pitch. Planet Football is a smaller, sadder place for the passing of two great players and great characters.

March 13: Kevin Blackwell says that he is happy how well the team fought to secure a draw on Saturday. "The sheer character of the players shone through once again. We got the equaliser and then in stoppage time we could have won the game. I have to give massive plaudits to our players." He went on: "Our fans have to understand not everything is going to go our way. This is the run-in and there will be twists and turns in it. Nothing will be straight forward between now and the end of the season, that's for sure. But do not write these lads off."

March 12: Micky Adams says he won't be doing Leeds any favours when they visit Coventry next week. Adams' side unexpectedly beat Sheffield United yesterday, but Adams told Neil Warnock that their promotion rivals would be in for a tough time: "Neil can rest assured that we will try to do them a favour against Leeds next week by doing everything we can to win. Sheffield have enough quality but it is a case of them really believing it. I had a blip when I was manager of Leicester City and still got them up."

March 12: Contrasting fortunes for a couple of former players who got themselves on the scoresheet at the weekend. Gary Speed made it 3-0 to Bolton against West Ham on the stroke of half-time, the home side running out 4-1 winners in the end. Meanwhile Mark Viduka scored a good goal to bring Boro level with Charlton at The Valley, only for Darren Bent to grab his second goal of the game to seal the points late on.

March 11: Liam Miller has been in the papers this week indicating that he wants to go back to Old Trafford to fight for his place - but that's for next season and for now he's very happy to be at Elland Road and believes he made the right decision to spend the season on loan with Leeds. He said: "It is going really well for me at the moment and staying at Leeds has proved to be the right decision. I am playing regularly, the whole team is doing really well and my confidence is high. The [loan extension] deal was all done and dusted in a couple of days. The manager wanted me to stay - he told me why it would be better for me to play every week for Leeds United and I agreed. It is great that things have worked out so well and I am really enjoying my football. The lads are great and hopefully we can help Leeds get back to the Premiership." Miller's form - and the fact that he is playing every week - earned him a call into the Ireland side that beat Sweden, with Miller contributing a cracking goal. He said: "It is always a great privilege to play for your country and it was great to get the call-up due to how I am playing for Leeds. That is the only way to get in a squad so coming to Leeds has really helped me. It was great to be involved right from the start and, hopefully, I can stay there."

March 11: Kevin Blackwell's Big Book of Possible Loanees is the longest book in the world if you are to believe all of the transfer rumours that have done the rounds this season. But one name has come up at several points during the year and that's old boy Andy Gray. Gray never really established himself at Leeds, despite appearing at Wembley under Wilko, and for a while it looked like his career was going nowhere before he hit some sparkling form with Sheffield United and switched to the now-doomed Sunderland in the close season. But with Mick McCarthy now gone, and caretaker Kevin Ball understood to not be a fan, Kevin Blackwell is now said to be pursuing Gray to end his hunt for some quality cover up front after Richard Cresswell was ruled out for the season.

March 11: Despite turning in an abysmal second half performance, Leeds didn't come out of today's games too badly. An early Hulse strike saw Leeds comfortably in front at the break, but Nigel Worthington's half-time team talk clearly had the desired effect as Norwich came back into it and deservedly went ahead with 15 minutes to go. It took a spectacular free kick from Eddie Lewis in the final minute to rescue a point for Kevin Blackwell. But things could have been worse: next week's opponents Coventry did us a favour by beating Sheffield United, so the gap is now just 5 points with a game in hand and a visit to Bramall Lane to come. Meanwhile Watford could only manage a goalless draw - admittedly at leaders Reading, so I guess they'll be happy too. Sam Ellis said that automatic promotion was now achievable: "We are a point nearer and it's in our own hands for the first time since maybe August or September. When we were 14 points behind Sheffield United we would have settled to be five points behind them with a game in hand and have to play them. It could be a better position but we're quite happy with the way it is and we know there are twists and turns along the way. But our players are fit and raring to go and they are looking forward to the next nine games. They actually think they can finish second so we couldn't be in a better position." Nigel Worthington was pleased enough with the point - though a bit unhappy to drop two at the death. He said: "It was a good solid away performance but we needed that because Elland Road is a very tough place to come. We went to Palace two weeks ago but we didn't turn up. But we turned up today, worked hard and caused Leeds all sorts of problems in the second half. It was important we came here in a positive frame of mind to relish the challenge. Elland Road is a magnificent ground with a wonderful atmosphere but the players got their teeth into the game in good style. That was more like Norwich away from home - full of grit and determination."

March 11: Sean Gregan earned himself a two-game lay-off today as he picked up his tenth yellow card of the season. It was always going to be a big ask for the veteran midfielder/defender to get through the next month without a further caution, and given Matthew Kilgallon's return to the squad it might not be the end of the world, although I'm sure that Kevin Blackwell would have liked to have given Killa another week or two before asking him to test his recovery at full match pace.

March 09: Kevin Blackwell has piled a bit more pressure on Sheffield United - saying that Leeds and several other clubs are closing in on them as the season draws to a close. Blackwell said: "We are trying to get as close as we can to them. They are in the ascendancy, but the gap is closing. There's a few of us chasing them - us, Watford and Crystal Palace - and if any of us catch them, we will have done a really great job."

March 08: Noel Whelan has turned down an offer from Livingston and instead has rejoined Aberdeen with a view to doing enough to impress Jimmy Calderwood to give him a start - and maybe others to come in with an offer during the summer. Whelan said: "I would definitely play for Aberdeen for free. If they wanted me, I would bite their hands off to play for them again. I let the club and the fans down when I was at Pittodrie last season."

March 07: Jermaine Wright says that he's hoping he can extend his loan spell with Southampton up to the end of the season after the initial month runs out at the weekend. He's clearly out of the picture at Elland Road but said: "I have enjoyed my time at Southampton and have been made to feel welcome here. If everything goes to plan I would like to stay here more than for just a month and stay until May."

March 07: Leeds United Ladies are in action next weekend in the semi-finals of the Women's FA Cup - and they want your support. The match against Liverpool will be held at Guiseley FC's ground at Nethermoore Park, and it only costs three quid for adults and a quid for concessions, so if you're in the area next Sunday afternoon, why not get along there and give them your support.

March 07: Kevin Blackwell has earned himself a new contract, despite all the rumours that have done the rounds saying Ken Bates wants to bring his own man in. Blackwell's success in taking Leeds to the verge of an automatic promotion place would seem to have impressed the chairman sufficiently for him to put a three-year deal on the table. Blackwell said: "I am delighted. There is nowhere else I would like to be and it is an honour to manage here." Speaking to the YEP, Ken Bates said: "I am a big believer that if it ain't broke you don't mend it. Kevin wasn't going to be allowed to go anywhere else."

March 07: Jacob Burns' move to Wisla Krakow went through in the end at the back end of last week - an undisclosed but presumably small fee saw him leave Barnsley as he tries to win himself a World Cup place. Meanwhile, one-time loanee Leandre Griffit has left Southampton on a free and pitched up at Elfsborg in Sweden.

March 06: A player regarded as a reject at Elland Road looks set to be picked by the biggest club in the world to shackle one of the deadliest strikers in the world. We are of course talking about Raul Bravo. Since his return to Spain he's been in and out of the Real Madrid squad, but has come in to replace Jonathan Woodgate at centreback and will have to keep Henry in check this week if his team are to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. At the time I remember being on the receiving end of some fairly hefty ribbing as I pointed out that he wasn't a bad player - we'll see just how far he's come on Wednesday. The player said: "We know Arsenal depend on [Henry] and stopping him is going to be the key. It's always a good idea to play with quick defenders, especially with teams like Arsenal." He added: "I'm delighted that at such a hard time he has trusted me - the only way I can repay him is to play as well as I can."

March 06: Kevin Blackwell once again urged the stay-away fans to get down to Elland Road and support the team. He said: "I would love to see a packed Elland Road for the Norwich game because we need to turn the place into a fortress for the last six home games and believe me these lads will give the fans something to shout about. As a city now we have to get together to try and drive this club back to the Premier League. That might mean We have to put our pride to one side, but if just half of the stay-aways came we would still get near 40,000 coming to Elland Road again... We have ten massive games left and if we can keep winning then who knows."

March 05: Robbie Keane scored twice for Spurs against Blackburn today, leading them to a 2-0 lead before half-time. Blackburn came back to level things with just over 20 minutes to go, but a Mido strike sealed the points for the home side. Mark Viduka might not have got his name on the scoresheet much this season - he'd only got 3 league goals before yesterday - but two of those where against Brum, and he added another to that tally with a strike on the stroke of half-time yesterday that was enough to bag the points and continue the Riverside Revival. Robbie Fowler was unlucky to have a oal ruled out for offside in the Reds' goalless draw with Charlton: replays showed that - although Liverpool did have a player beyond the last defender, Fowler was clearly onside and unlucky to be denied his first league goal since his return to Anfield. The Manager of the Month curse appeared to be working wonders at Watford: Marlon King had levelled for the Hornets after they had shipped a goal early on, but Derby went ahead with 5 minutes to go. But Adie Boothroyd's side are nothing if not 90-minute fighters, and Al Bangura turned up in injury time to square the match.

March 04: Kevin Blackwell set about his old boss Neil Warnock almost as soon as the final whistle blew today. With the Blades dropping points against Crewe on Friday night, today's victory over Palace saw Leeds cut the gap on Sheffield United to just 6 points, with a game in hand and a visit to Bramall Lane due in April. Blackwell said: "People thought the race for automatic promotion was finished a long time ago and that Reading and Sheffield United had booked their places in the Premiership - but we never agreed. Sheffield United are still in the ascendancy, but we feel we have a chance of catching them. We have to keep chasing, and we are doing as much as we can." Iain Dowie accepted that his team were second best: "Leeds deserved to win today. They were not massively better than us, but we didn't get going until the latter stages. We seemed to lack hunger, and that was disappointing. We were second-best far too often in both boxes; it was a really flat performance."

March 04: Noel Whelan is out of rehab and looking for another club - but one boss is saying that the player's agent is blocking any chance of a deal. Livingston boss John Robertson was impressed by what he saw from a couple of trial appearances by Whelan, but said: "Noel was very enthusiastic. Unfortunately his agent feels he is worth nearly double what we can afford to offer him. It's a shame because he's a player with great experience. But we'll hopefully talk again on Monday and try to revive the deal."

March 03: Gary McAllister's wife Denise has lost her long battle against cancer. The title-winning former Leeds midfielder had stepped down from his role as player-manager of Coventry in 2003 in order to be with her during her illness. The couple have two young sons after marrying at Gretna Green thirteen years ago. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to Gary and his family.

March 03: The Manager of the Month award for the Championship in February has gone to Adie Boothroyd of promotion rivals Watford. Traditionally it's a bit of a poisoned chalice, so we'll be hoping for the inevitable run of poor results for the Hornets now that the former Leeds coach has had his achievements there recognised.

March 03: Palace are expected to be close to full strength for tomorrow's game, with Clinton Morrison and Dougie Freedman over the worst of their recent injuries and Marco Reich and Aki Riihilati also on the mend from ankle and groin strains. Shaun Derry returns from suspension for Leeds and is expected to face his old club, and Joel Griffiths will be hoping for his first match action at Selhurst Park.

March 02: John Charles will be further honoured by the club as Ken Bates - or more particularly his wife - has ordered a bust of the great man for the reception area at Elland Road. Mrs Bates won the services of a sculptor in a charity auction, and after initially thinking that her husband would make a good subject, came to the conclusion that a bust of The Gentle Giant would be a fitting tribute to a great player.

March 01: Barnsley have agreed a fee with Polish outfit Wisla Krakow for ex-Leeds midfielder Jacob Burns. Burns has been told that his (minimal) chances of breaking into the national squad for the World Cup will only improve if he is playing at a level higher than the 3rd division, and after impressing in a trial in Poland will move as soon as personal terms can be agreed.

March 01: Eddie Lewis will almost certainly be in the USA squad for the World Cup Finals - but playing at left back rather than his usual position for Leeds. Not that he's bothered: "When you play for your country it could be anywhere - it's just an honour to be playing that it doesn't really matter where you fit in. Sometimes it can be a nasty surprise to find yourself playing somewhere unfamiliar but I believe I have settled into the role quite well and it has been good to learn more about defending, such as holding the line and working with the centre-halves." He explained how the positional switch had come about: "The manager is trying to get all the players he wants on the field at the same time, and sometimes you can't do that when you have players competing for the same position, so he's moved players around and one of the easiest ways of solving the problem down the left side was to move me to left back. I do have quite a bit of experience now and it's not unusual for players to move position later on in their career, and the way we play we need the backs to give us more width."

March 01: Tonight's reserve game against Boro has been cancelled due to a frozen pitch at the South Leeds Stadium.

March 01: A quick wander through all of the internationals going off this week sees several current and former players in action. Paul Robinson's most significant contribution to the England vs Uruguay game was to fly through the back of Wayne Bridge and so right off yet another left back prospect for the World Cup squad. Robinson had little chance - or protection from a defence including Rio Ferdinand - to stop Uruguay's opener, but England came back to win 2-1. Robbie Keane led Ireland to a 3-0 win over Sweden, latching on to Ian Harte's pass to make it 2-0, and Liam Miller added a superb goal after coming on as a sub to seal the win. Jonathan Douglas was in the squad but didn't get a game. Rui Marques played as a sub for Angola in their 1-0 defeat to South Korea in Seoul. Eddie Lewis set up the only goal of the game for Clint Dempsey as USA beat Poland 0-1. David Healy was on the pitch for an hour but failed to score himselfas Northern Ireland beat Estonia 1-0 at Windsor Park. Finally Gylfi Einarsson was involved for Iceland as they were turned over 2-0 by Trinidad and Tobago.

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