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Championship Spotlight:

It's all White

As part of skysports.com's Championship spotlight, Chris Burton catches up with Leeds United midfielder Adam Clayton.

Championship Spotlight - Championship Spotlight Posted 8th December 2011 view comments

Four wins in five, the fourth most prolific attack in the Championship and a burning desire to make a fallen hero proud - Leeds United have become a very real threat to the second tier frontrunners.

The Whites were considered to be play-off contenders before a ball was kicked this season, but walking the walk is considerably harder than talking the talk.

Not that anyone at Elland Road was bellowing promotion aspirations from the rooftops - they didn't need to, a certain level of success is required in this particular part of West Yorkshire and expectation comes with the territory.

Adam Clayton: Confident Leeds can keep themselves in the promotion hunt

Adam Clayton: Confident Leeds can keep themselves in the promotion hunt

A unwanted stint in League One may still be fresh in the memory, but Leeds are a club that prefers to look forward and cling to the dream that betters times, including a return to the Premier League Promised Land, lie ahead.

This could be the season that they take the step up and re-join English football's elite, eight years after tumbling from that lofty perch and rather losing their bearings somewhat.

It would be a fitting campaign in which to secure promotion as well, given the tragic death of Leeds legend Gary Speed.

The passing of the former Whites midfielder has certainly stirred emotions at Elland Road - with added motivation provided, as if it were needed.

There is, of course, still a long way to go, with the Championship campaign a 46-game marathon that tends to separate the men from the boys and seasoned athletes from weekend fun runners.

Leeds are confident they can last the pace, though, with Adam Clayton telling skysports.com's Chris Burton that recent victories over Nottingham Forest and Millwall have left confidence sky high within the Whites camp.

Pushing

"We can't wait to get into the next game," said the 22-year-old midfielder.

"The last two games have probably been our best two performances of the season, so if we can continue that we can start looking at pushing on into the top two."

Consistency and momentum will be key to any side harbouring top-six ambitions this term, and Leeds' recent run of results suggests they are not too far away from finding the promotion formula.

"I think that's what this league is all about, you have got to be consistent," said Clayton.

"Anybody can beat anyone, so it's all about who wins the most games. Hopefully we can keep this run going and get up the league."

Taking a 5-0 defeat to Blackpool out of the equation, Leeds have been in contention to take something from just about every fixture so far this term - and that is a useful habit to get into.

"The Blackpool game was a bit of freak, especially as we had a man sent off as well," said Clayton.

"But we have been in and amongst it in every game so far and we have given every team a game. So long as we can keep that up and not concede any late goals, we'll be alright."

It could be argued that recent performances have been inspired by the memory of Speed, but Clayton is confident the Whites can maintain those high standards and carry them through to the end of the season - with Leeds supporters planning to pay tribute to their former midfielder in each of their remaining fixtures.

"I think the fans are going to sing that song in the 11th minute of every game, so it's going to be there every game now," said Clayton.

"I'm sure we will try to keep that passion and desire we have had in the last two games for the rest of the season."

Determined

It is hoped that inspiration from the stands will spill over onto the field, with Leeds determined to go at least one better than last year - when they ended the season in seventh spot, agonisingly short of the play-off places.

"We only just missed out last year, the last couple of games cost us, but this year we are more than determined to stay in these play-offs and, if we can, push into the top two," said Clayton.

"We hope to do that if given the chance."

The Championship is, however, a notoriously difficult beast to tame, with Doncaster's 1-0 victory over table-topping Southampton on Saturday offering another timely reminder of just how competitive the division has become.

Clayton said: "It is a crazy division. Anyone can beat anyone. When you go to the bottom of the league, or the top of the league, you have just got to prepare properly, do the right things and try to get the result.

"We go into every game trying to win the game. It's so tough to win games in this division, but we go into every game with that intention. We will see where that takes us at the end of the season."

Negotiating the festive period is next on Leeds' to-do list and, with the 2011 Christmas schedule not as gruelling as it has been in the past, Clayton is hoping it will be a happy New Year for the Whites.

He said: "I was looking at that and it is a bit more spaced out and a bit more forgiving. It's still going to be a very tough Christmas period, though, because we have got some very tough teams to play.

"If we can come out of that run still where we are, if not better, I'm sure we will take that."

Comments (8)

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Michael Jones says...

I am a Leeds supporter and i hope we get promotion one way or another.If it's through thebv play offs or automatic promotion i don't care as long as we get back where we belong.But i have to say a big thank you to Resding for loan us Alex McCarthy a brilliant goalkeeper pity he's not on our books.

Posted 10:28 11th December 2011

Adam Roberts (Leeds United fan) says...

Totally agree Martin, very impressed with Clayts this season and the partnership with Howson is maybe the best in the league just hope we can keep it up and Howson is back before to long. MOT

Posted 10:48 10th December 2011

Mike Birkbeck (Leeds United fan) says...

I think leeds will get promoted 'if' we keep aidy white, and snodgrass. not bothered bout howson tho!! keep it up leeds. MOT

Posted 13:53 9th December 2011

Ben Alexis says...

they'll still bottle it, get ready from a beating from hudds town next season

Posted 12:49 9th December 2011

Daniel Hoden (Leeds United fan) says...

If Ken Bates spends some money and strengthens the squad with a quality centre half and a quality striker then I think we have a fantastic chance of automatic promotion, Bates is making the noise of a man who wants promotion, but will we hear the pound coins jangling in his pockets? I personally dont think bates will speculate to accumalate, and if we dont make the play offs I think Simon Grayson will be made the scapegoat

Posted 09:56 9th December 2011

Sean Cliffe (Leeds United fan) says...

It would be very fitting if leeds returned to the prem in memory of the late gr8 speedo sadly missed but never forgotten by anybody at elland road,lets do it for gary not the playoffs pleaze seany

Posted 00:01 9th December 2011

Keith Burbridge (Reading fan) says...

Leeds found their way when Macarthy joined them on loan from Reading, and gave them true stability in Goal. He will be sorely missed as he returns to Reading next week! ......and who will Leeds be playing then???

Posted 23:18 8th December 2011

Martin Bleasby (Leeds United fan) says...

can i just say that Adam Clayton has been that driving force in midfield that we have been lacking since Lee Bowyer, he makes the runs & breaks up play and chips in with the odd goal in fact the way he is playing i would think he will get at least 10 this season which is not bad for any midfielder . keep it up Adam M.O.T.

Posted 19:55 8th December 2011

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