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Post-crisis Leeds to finally reach Premier League promised land

| 03.02.2014

After a post-Christmas period the Elland Road faithful will want to forget, Leeds threw off the shackles of crisis and started February with a 5-1 win against Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield, thanks largely to a hat-trick from Championship top-scorer Ross McCormack.

With boss Brian McDermott still in charge, despite reports he had been sacked after assistant Nigel Gibbs was in the dugout against the Terriers, and McCormack showing his belief in the former Reading chief by rejecting a move to Cardiff, Leeds look massive odds for promotion at a top-price 33/1 with Ladbrokes.

They may be nine points off the play-offs in 11th, but mid-season Championship springers have been numerous over the last decade, with a host of clubs making late charges up the table from unlikely positions.

Only last season, Bolton missed out on the play-off places on goal difference despite being 19 points off sixth spot at the start of February, and Iain Dowie took Crystal Palace to sixth and then into the Premier League in 2004, having been appointed boss when the Eagles were 19th.

McDermott performed this trick with Reading two years ago, when the Royals were eight points off top spot in seventh place before a run of 15 victories in the last 17 games ensured their promotion as Championship winners.

Leeds were bang in contention for a top-six finish before a terrible start to 2014, but they seemed to reach a nadir in the 6-0 thumping at Sheffield Wednesday and although they lost their next match 1-0 at home, that was against a Leicester side in the midst of an historic nine-game winning run.

Keeping hold of McCormack, who’s scored four in his last two games and 21 altogether in the division this term, is a huge plus going into the last 17 league matches and McDermott’s Reading old boy Jimmy Kebe got off the mark for his new club in the thrashing of Mark Robins’ men.

Leeds bounced back from three league losses in a row earlier this season with seven wins in their next 11 Championship games and if they can add victory at Yeovil next time out to the humbling of Huddersfield, this January’s debacle may well be long forgotten by May.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune