Depleted Leeds United side set to enter Lions Den

Referee Trevor Kettle sends off Leeds United's Jason Pearce against Watford
Referee Trevor Kettle sends off Leeds United's Jason Pearce against Watford

LEEDS United head south to the New Den with a weakened squad for Sunday’s Sky TV date with Millwall after a week to forget, writes Tony Harber.

If it was not bad enough that they surrendered 6-1 to Watford last Saturday to slide down to 18th in the Npower Championship, the game also left the Whites without three of their first team players as they look to halt a run of six matches without a win.

Rodolph Austin faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after cracking his ankle bone and his absence has been compounded by the loss at the same time of fellow midfielder Michael Brown after he received his fifth booking of the campaign to pick up a one-game ban.

Ever present centre-back Jason Pearce will also miss the Millwall game as he sits out the first of a three-match ban following his sending off last weekend.

Many observers thought the red card harsh, but the FA dismissed Leeds’ appeal on Tuesday, leaving manager Neil Warnock frustrated.

He said: “To me it sums up everything that’s wrong with officials in football.

“The referee was going to book him and I’ve no doubt at all that the tackle deserved a yellow card. But his linesmen have told him to send Jason off. The referee’s right on top of the tackle, they’re miles away but they make the decision.

“We had good grounds for appeal but I’m not surprised they (the FA) haven’t let him off. It’s a mator blow because Jason’s been excellent since coming here and we’ve got tough games coming up. I find it hard to accept.”

Warnock has been frustrated further this week with a proposed loan deal for Stoke striker Cameron Jerome stalling, but at least there was better news than expected with confirmation of Austin’s injury after it was initially feared he had suffered a double fracture.

He added: “I am gutted for Rudy, he has been our best midfield player this season.

“If there is a plus, it is that Rudy hasn’t suffered the double fracture we all feared on Saturday. But losing a player of Rudy’s quality is still a big blow.

“It’s one thing after another at the moment. We’re not having much luck.

“But we’ve got to go to Millwall and stand up and be counted. Not many people will expect us to win there but you can always upset the odds in football.”

Millwall will be without injured top scorer Darius Henderson, although they have an able deputy in former Leeds striker Andy Keogh, who was on target in their 2-1 win over Derby last Saturday.

In contrast to Leeds, Kenny Jackett’s Lions go into the game unbeaten in their last nine and the run has included four-goal thumpings of promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield Town.