Expectations this Tuesday evening may not be fever pitch, but if Leeds United manager Steve Evans is to avoid a critical end of season autopsy by many manager's Doctor Death, President Massimo Cellino, then reaching his target of a top ten finish could be the only antidote. Leeds currently lie 12th in the table, a mere three points off that 10th place target.
Wolverhampton have felt better, not scoring a single goal at home since the 8th of March, with their only win in that stretch against relegation-threatened MK Dons. The Wolves fans must have felt sick too after losing to a late winner from Hull City's Robert Snodgrass in their last game.
With consistency finally coming from Leeds and striker Chris Wood returning to form, Steve Evans must be breaking into a cold sweat at the prospect of making this 3 wins from 3 and taking the tenth spot. But this is Leeds United, and things are never straight forward. Just as the Whites hit form, a mystery illness struck the club this week to destabilise the squad. They were the dominant side against Reading at the weekend despite losing Captain Sol Bamba and midfielder Tom Adeyemi to the unknown virus, and more were sent home on Monday.
With more players potentially out Tuesday night, Evans may have a selection headache. Against Wolves, Alex Mowatt may as well be in quarantine as he sits out a 3 match ban, and there will be fitness tests for Bridcutt, Diagouraga and Bamba. Carayol is not expected to feature due to a hamstring injury. The sick bay is full.
Fans expect to get better
Wolverhampton Wanderers' season could almost mirror Leeds United's. Seeking new owners and new players, their season has not been the one demanded by their supporters. Wolves skipper Danny Batth took responsibility for their difficult season, and claimed his club is in a state of transition. However, like the Leeds fans, he admits the Wolves fans expect more than a mediocre mid-table finish. Wolves are currently 14th and 1 point behind Leeds, and thus would pass them with a win Tuesday night.
Evans has publicly stated that he wants to give further opportunities to Leeds' up-and-coming talent, giving the likes of Coyle, Phillips and Erwin game time against Reading. It's a sentiment I agree with but feel the goal of reaching tenth position will be too strong a pull for Evans in deciding the line up. Should Leeds be able to field their strongest defence (and I include defensive midfielder Bridcutt in that) and allow Antenucci to support Wood up front, Leeds stand a good chance of winning this one.
Leeds United's last five games now include 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw. They have scored 7 and conceded 7.
Wolverhampton's last five include 1 win, 1 loss, and 3 draws. Scoring just 4, they have also only conceded 4.
From 42 games at Elland Road between these two sides, United have come out on top on 24 occasions, Wolves have 9 wins, and there have been 9 draws.
Leeds player to watch
The Football League's Young Player of the Year, Lewis Cook has again been linked with Premiership clubs and there's strong interest from Bournemouth and Manchester United.
Earlier in the season, and again on Sunday night, Lewis stated he wanted to stay at Leeds. However, the decision may not rest with him; as we've seen in the past, young talent does not always stick around these days. This is a game that will be won in midfield and Cook will be influential. He has scored 2 goals so far and I'd like to see him net again before the end of the season.
Wolves player to watch
James (Lenny) Henry is a creative midfielder dubbed the white Pele. He arrived at Wolves on loan from Millwall alongside Manager Kenny Jacket, who obviously rates him highly. He has gone on to be a permanent addition to the squad making 89 appearances and scoring 18 goals. This season he is Wolves leading scorer with 7.
Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Football League Championship
Elland Road, Leeds
BBC Radio Leeds, LUTV
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
11:45a PT / 2:45p ET / 7:45p BT
Leeds United's probable lineup
Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Dallas, Cook, Antenucci, Wood
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bellusci, Adeyemi, Murphy, Carayol, Erwin
Wolverhampton's probable lineup
Ikeme, Doherty, Iorfa, Hause, Deslandes, Price, Saville, Henry, Edwards, Helan, Sigurdarson
Subs: Mason, Coady, Martinez, Le Fondre, Hunte, Enobakhare, Hayden
As the odds suggest, this will be a close one. All being "well," Leeds should continue their winning streak, but considering Wolves less-than-generous defence and Leeds intermittent scoring record, I go for 1-0 Leeds.
Enjoy the game today Leeds fans, not many left in the season. Thanks for reading, and let us know what you think in the comments below.