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Leeds United and Promotion to the Premier League: Is it just too much to ask?

It's been a very positive couple of months for Leeds United. Over the final international break of the season, the Whites find themselves in sixth. Can they keep up the promotion push?

Long may the good times at Elland Road continue.
Long may the good times at Elland Road continue.
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Since the defeat to Huddersfield Town way back on 10 September, Leeds have amassed a total of 22 points from a possible 30.

That haul is rather impressive for a team that couldn't find any form at all over the season's opening month of August.

There are many factors that could be seen as the reason for the turnaround: a striker that can score goals, a team that carries belief and fight week-in-week out, and, of course the fact that the defence has become a much tighter unit.

But while I, of course, am incredibly happy with the situation the club currently find themselves in, there are certain elements to this current wave of positivity that we're riding that could upend everything and dump us back on the shore.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but let's take an honest look at those elements before we get too carried away.

Leeds short in defensive depth

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Leeds' renewed push for promotion is the shortage of options of cover in certain areas of the pitch.

Head coach Garry Monk, for the most part, has tried to keep the same starting XI on the team sheet each week. Of course, this is great for consistency, just look at Leicester last year - every fan in the country could name what side Claudio Ranieri would put out before it was announced. But what happens when (touch wood) something bad happens?

So far, Leeds have been relatively fortunate with injuries (again, touch wood), and Monk hasn't been forced to delve into the lower ranks of the squad too often.

While the likes of Kalvin Phillips has fitted into his holding role very nicely in the continued absence of Liam Bridcutt, United may find they don't have such luxuries in other areas of the field.

Were, God forbid, either of the newly-found central-defensive pairing of Kyle Bartley or Pontus Jansson to be unavailable for some time, things could look drastically different, drastically quickly.

That's not an insult to Liam Cooper, who has deputised well when required, but the rocks at the heart of the defence will prove to have been a massive factor in Leeds' season come May.

Jansson, especially, has brought a new-found belief almost on his own since his arrival at Elland Road, and has instantly been adored by the faithful. His passion, heart and desire to win at all costs for the club are something we haven't seen for some time.

The loss and interruption in the chemistry between those two in the middle would be a monumental loss for Leeds if it were to happen at any point, especially for any length of time, and I don't quite believe that any of the defensive options in that area would suffice as an exact replacement.

Pontus,'ve been warned. Stay fit!

Lack of alternate scoring options

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to turn down a slice of humble pie. Chris Wood has taken much of the brunt of my criticism this season, with the words "Chris Wood has a great chance to score, but can't beat the goalkeeper!" appearing all too often on my social media feeds for much of the early part of the season.

Yet when fans started to get on top of the Kiwi for his seemingly habitual "wastefulness", our man of the hour Garry Monk was there to offer an arm around the shoulder.

Regularly and publicly believing in Wood's ability, Monk's faith would soon pay off, as the vote of confidence seems to have led to a revelation for the front man.

Wood has scored eight of Leeds United's 19 league goals this season, and three more in the EFL Cup run. His strikes have come at opportune moments and he's earned Leeds five points all by himself. Take away those point-winning goals, and Leeds would find themselves down in 16th spot.

There's no doubt that his goals have carried Leeds so far this season, but it's what lies in reserve once again that alarms me.

Closest to Wood in terms of goals scored are centre back Kyle Bartley and midfielder Pablo Hernandez, who each have two.

Similar to the delicate situation at the back, should Wood find himself on the treatment table, it is difficult to see where the slack would be picked up from.

Of course the initial go-to would be Swede Marcus Antonsson, who, granted, hasn't exactly had as much of an opportunity as Wood to get on the pitch and bang some goals in, especially in September and October. He has, however, popped up when it has been asked of him.

If it wasn't for Antonsson's emphatic finish at Fleetwood Town, the quarter finals of the EFL Cup would have been a mere daydream. That said, Antonsson has only one goal to his name in the league so far this season in the three appearances he has managed.

So where would Leeds turn in the absence of Wood? While a few players have sporadically chipped in to the tally, the likes of Hernandez, Sacko and Roofe aren't exactly looking likely to massively bolster Leeds' numbers in the 'For' column. Souleymane Doukara? Please.

Massimo Cellino is a sleeping dragon

It's a scenario we all fear. The history books of Massimo Cellino's decision-making don't exactly make for good reading.

Prior to the recent turn in results and performances, Monk was well aware (especially in August) that any further defeats would cost him his job in a heartbeat.

The media were circling like sharks after the defeat to Huddersfield, smelling the blood that was invariably slowly pouring into the West Yorkshire water, wandering when - not if - the Italian may yet again pull the trigger and smash another watermelon.

The Championship is an incredibly unforgiving league. Any team that has gone up has struggled in one part of the season or another. Momentum can shift suddenly and out of nowhere teams are picking up points all around you.

When it happens, you require patience. Patience to ride the bumpy times out and play your way out of it.

Patience isn't something our owner has.

Middlesbrough were a prime example of this both last season when they held on for promotion, and the season previous which saw them in and amongst the automatic spots: you can't win every game.

We will all, no doubt, hold our breath should things start to get a bit rough at Elland Road. There is no question that Monk is the man to carry this club forward; the performances, attitude and belief amongst the players is something that has been buried for years, and somehow he's managed to dig it up. Will he be able to captain his ship through the next stormy patch?

So, how can the question marks be removed?

Leeds United, I feel, will need to spend a bit of money in January. If the club were to be in a genuine position to mount a challenge for promotion after the Christmas period, Cellino (or whoever is at the helm at the time) will need to dig into their pockets.

Another quality striker and another centre-half will be vital. The season is long, especially when a deep cup run or two is thrown into the mix.

It would be naïve of Cellino and Monk to think that our current playing staff will be enough to see Leeds through a long, grueling campaign. The more chance of promotion, the more money Monk may have at his disposal.

The players also must keep their current state of mind; the belief and character they've shown. Both recent encounters with Norwich have left fans feeling incredibly proud and fulfilled with the effort and sheer determination of the players doing what they should - playing for that badge on their chests.

Saturday's clash with Newcastle could be another pivotal moment of the season.

A result against the table-toppers will have everyone talking, belief flowing, and maybe some of the questions set to be answered.

It's a good time to be a Leeds fan, let's enjoy what we have now... and long may it continue. MOT.