Farke fires Canaries warning

Head coach Daniel Farke has told his Norwich City team not to take anything for granted as the Championship promotion campaign enters its final crucial few weeks.

The Canaries opened up a four-point gap at the top of the standings by securing a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Rotherham United on Saturday, with City having now reeled off six consecutive league victories.

Their promotion hopes were also helped by closest challengers Leeds United losing 1-0 at home to Sheffield United, who took over in second place above their Yorkshire rivals.

However, Farke was eager to ensure that his players remain fully focused on the task in hands, with the Canaries hoping to return to the Premier League after three seasons in the second tier.

The German told the East Anglian Daily Times: "Of course we know the situation now. Not just to Sheffield United and Leeds United, but to improve the gap to West Brom and Middlesbrough.

"More or less we have a big chance to finish in the top four, but we know we are in the fight for automatic promotion.

"Some tough games still to come. In the Championship the momentum can swing quickly. We know we are in a brilliant position, but we know the hard work is still ahead."

Norwich are currently priced at 1/12 to earn promotion this season, while they are 8/15 to claim the Championship title.

Their next assignment is a tough one, as they head to the Riverside on Saturday 30th March to take on a Middlesbrough side who are battling to secure a top-six finish and a place in the play-offs.

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Sharp says Blades stuck at it

Billy Sharp said that Sheffield United survived a storm at Elland Road to take all three points and climb into the automatic promotion places in the Championship.

Leeds were second and United third going into the crucial Yorkshire derby and it was the home side who dominated the first half, though Dean Henderson in the Blades goal didn't have a great deal to do despite their pressure.

However, they did go close when a neat move found Tyler Roberts in the area and the striker's first-time shot hit the woodwork.

That was early in the second half but the Blades survived unscathed and were a more resolute outfit as the game went on, having possession of their own.

The decisive moment in the game came in the 71st minute when United took the lead, Sharp was instrumental, getting the ball and finding Chris Basham with the perfect pass, the midfielder letting strike from 20 yards out and finding the back of the net.

The home side went in search of an equaliser to stay second in the table but, in committing men forward they were vulnerable to the counter attack and Sharp was in a good position to take advantage and double the Blades lead only to be fouled outside the area by keeper Kiko Casilla who was sent off by the referee.

That happened as the game entered added time and there was no time for any sustained pressure from Leeds, the visitors holding out for a victory that takes them up to second in the table, a point ahead of Leeds.

Sharp afterwards said the side demonstrated great resilience to survive the Leeds pressure and get a vital result.

He said: "It's a great win at a very good team, they battered us for the first half hour, we thought that might happen – it was a great atmosphere and we stuck at it. We did the job and got three points.

"We've put ourselves in a good position, it's in our hands, if we can keep performing and grinding out wins we'll have a good chance."

The international break means the Blades are back in action in two weeks time when they are back home at Bramall Lane to take on another promotion rival in Bristol City.

United are 8/11 to win with City 4/1 and the draw 13/5. United are 5/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Many tough matches ahead – Bielsa

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa claims his side still have plenty of challenges ahead following their 1-0 win over Bristol City.

Patrick Bamford's first-half goal was the difference between the two teams as Leeds returned to second place in the Championship table.

With Norwich City, Sheffield United and Leeds all battling for the top two places, it looks like the race for automatic promotion will go right down to the wire.

Bielsa was pleased with the win over the Robins at Ashton Gate but the Argentine knows there will be many more twists and turns in the battle for promotion.

"It is a risk talking about even being safe in the top three at this stage," he said. "There are so many tough matches ahead.

"Today ended up a 50-50 game. In the first hour we could have scored more, but in the final 15 minutes our opponents could have got a draw.

"At the end they played lot of aerial balls into our box where the consequences of mistakes can be high.

"My team played with a lot of experience in that period when we couldn't launch counter attacks.

"Our goalkeeper Kiko Casilla brings serenity to the team because he does not make mistakes whatever situation he faces.

"Kalvin Phillips did well in a role protecting the back-four. We had worked hard on our aerial play down the middle of the pitch."

Leeds are 2/1 to win the Championship title this season.

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Roberts drools over Whites’ win

Tyler Roberts claimed Leeds' promotion bid is back on track after producing one of their best displays of the season in Friday's 4-0 win against West Brom.

Marcelo Bielsa's men put their promotion rivals to the sword at a sold out Elland Road as Pablo Hernandez's 16th-second opener, a brace from Patrick Bamford and a late effort from Ezgjan Alioski fired the Whites back to the top of the table.

However, it was Roberts who picked up the man-of-the-match award after an all-action display, in which he provided two assists against his former club.

Norwich and Sheffield United could go back above them over the weekend, but Roberts is confident that Leeds will be in the automatic promotion places at the end of the season if they can keep producing Friday night's performance.

"I think for this season, the team performance is up there," said Roberts on LUTV.

"After the loss [at QPR] on Tuesday it just showed the character that the team has got, along with the fight that we have.

"Our main objective was to set the pace from the start of the game and it definitely showed, by going up one nil up that early."

Roberts added: "It all came together and it showed with the result, it had a little bit of extra spice being against my own team and to get a good performance against my old team was pleasing to show how much I have come on and how much Leeds have improved me.

"We have a bit of relaxation over the weekend now, hopefully results go our way, but if we keep doing, what we keep doing, it won't matter about other results."

The fight for automatic promotion is now looking like a three-horse race with Leeds 4/11 to be promoted, while Norwich are priced at 3/10 and Sheffield United are 1/2.

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Bielsa maintains Whites belief

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has urged his side to continue to believe in their attacking qualities, following three losses in their last seven Championship games.

Despite the slight misfire, the Whites can move back to the top of the table with a win at home to West Bromwich Albion on Friday evening, with Bielsa telling his players to stick to the methods which have worked well for much of the campaign to date.

He told reporters at his pre-match briefing: "You can't train efficiency (in front of goal), but you can train the capacity to create chances to score.

"For me the fact that the team always deserves to score has huge value. I am happy when we score goals, because we deserve to score goals.

"And I don't make any conclusion when there is no correlation between the number of chances and the goals, or when it's the opposite."

Bielsa is hoping for a big reaction to the 1-0 reverse at Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening, when United drew a blank for the first time in nine league games.

Their meeting with the Baggies at The Hawthorns in November of last year ended in a comprehensive 4-1 victory for the hosts, with Pablo Hernandez netting a last-minute consolation for Leeds.

That victory made it four in a row for Albion against the Whites, who are 5/4 to win the game on Friday evening and 8/1 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Leeds can be backed at 8/15 to secure promotion this season.

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Roofe blow rocks Leeds

Leeds United striker Kemar Roofe faces a spell on the sidelines after it was confirmed that he damaged knee ligaments during the win against Swansea City.

However, the Championship side remain hopeful that the 26-year-old will play again this season.

Roofe suffered the injury during last Wednesday's 2-1 victory against the Swans at Elland Road and underwent scans on Monday morning that confirmed the extent of the damage.

A statement from the club read: "Leeds United forward Kemar Roofe will face a period on the sidelines following confirmation that he damaged knee ligaments during the win over Swansea City at Elland Road. Roofe will work hard with the medical team at Thorp Arch to return to action as quickly as possible."

Roofe, who has scored 14 goals this season, complained of pain in his knee the day after the match against Graham Potter's team, who beat Brentford 4-1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Roofe missed six matches because of a calf strain in September and October.

Leeds are currently third in the Championship table and 2/5 to be promoted this season.

They entertain Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and are 2/9 to win the match. The struggling Trotters are 1/12 to be relegated this term.

Bielsa urges perspective in defeat

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa says his players must refocus on the task in hand after surrendering top spot in the Championship to Norwich City.

The Whites were beaten 3-1 by the Canaries at Elland Road on Saturday and lost top sot on goal difference as a consequence, but Bielsa says that there is no reason to panic.

And the Argentinian is even more keen to keep things steady with United as their next assignment is a trip to fellow promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough next Saturday.

Bielsa told reporters: "We still need too many chances to score and we need to be much more clinical. We did not make our possession count.

"We have now lost the previous defensive solidity and that is down to me, not the players. I feel deeply responsible.

"We need to be better in possession. We lost the ball at key times for the first two goals we conceded and it has cost us a defeat.

"We have to keep this defeat in perspective and maintain our focus. We have another big game next weekend at Middlesbrough and we will prepare thoroughly for that."

Leeds United are available at 1/2 to gain promotion this season, while they are 7/4 to win the Championship title.

The Whites last played in the English top-flight during the 2003/04, when they were relegated alongside Wolves and Leicester City.

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Karanka makes Forest exit

Nottingham Forest have parted company with head coach Aitor Karanka, with the club just outside the Championship play-off places.

The 45-year-old took charge at the City Ground in January 2018, having previously guided Middlesbrough to promotion to the Premier League in 2016.

Karanka started his senior coaching career as an assistant at Real Madrid, the club where he spent five years as a player, in between two spells with Athletic Bilbao.

A short statement from Forest confirmed: "Aitor Karanka has asked to be released from his contract as the manager of Nottingham Forest Football Club.

"The club have agreed to this request and the terms of departure have been agreed. Both parties wish each other every success for the future and there will be no further comment from either party."

Forest, currently seventh in the table, have only won one of their last six Championship games, but that victory came last time out when they saw off table-toppers Leeds United 4-2 at the City Ground.

Following that, what turned out to be Karanka's last game in charge came in a 2-0 FA Cup third round defeat at Chelsea.

The Midlanders are back in action on Saturday when they travel to lowly Reading, with the visitors side 6/5 to win the game, while the draw is priced at 12/5 and a 1-1 final scoreline is available at 5/1.

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Mowbray ponders his options

Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray hopes that fatigue will not be a problem when his team take on table-topping Leeds United.

Elliott Bennett missed Saturday's game against Norwich City because of a foot injury, while Charlie Mulgrew and Harrison Reed could miss the trip to West Yorkshire.

Reed picked up an injury in the match but was forced to play on as Mowbray had already used all three of his substitutes.

"I hope I don't regret not taking Harrison off," Mowbray admitted. "He was in the middle of the pitch and couldn't run. Injuries are part of football though and we have to get on with it.

"Lots of players are struggling. There are a lot of aching bodies out there having put in the work they have done. When you play against a team like Norwich, a team who keep the ball, it's a really intense concentration and effort day.

"We'll get the bodies recovered and see who we have available for the trip to Elland Road on Boxing Day."

Blackburn are 11/2 to beat Leeds United and 16/1 to win the Championship clash 2-1.

McClaren issues Leeds claim

Steve McClaren expects Leeds United to be in the Championship promotion chase this season after they edged out his QPR side 2-1 on Saturday.

The 57-year-old former England manager thought he had engineered a successful away-day at Elland Road when Nahki Wells put the R's in front during the first half.

However, Kemar Roofe equalised on the stroke of half-time before grabbing a second from the penalty spot eight minutes after the break to seal the win for Marco Bielsa's side.

The win keeps the Whites second in the Championship behind Norwich, while they are five points clear of third-placed Sheffield United with just over half of the season remaining.

McClaren is predicting a clutch of teams breaking away to fight it out for automatic promotion and play-off places in the second half of the season and he is sure Leeds will remain firmly in contention.

He said: "It was a strange league to start with. It was very even, I think now you're starting to see six, seven, eight teams coming through, Aston Villa being one of them.

"I expect Stoke (will feature) as well. A lot of big clubs and only three can go up. There's going to be a lot of disappointed clubs at the end of the season with big expectations who won't make it. And I think we're beginning to see the pressure of that.

"You'll see as the season goes on and it'll be who handles the pressure the most and the best. Not just in terms of management but in terms of squad players, and Leeds are going to be up there, without a shadow of a doubt."

Leeds are 2/1 to win the Championship title this season, while they are priced at 4/6 to win promotion.

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