By Rob Atkinson
Leeds United head into this weekend fresh from a thrill-a-minute, Blackburn-blip-recovery, entertaining three-all draw with Watford and as such they will most likely be in confident mood and fine fettle ahead of a fixture against Doncaster Rovers at their custom-built Meccano ground the Keepmoat Stadium - a venue where United have never lost. Oh dear. Such positive omens are just made for blowing up in a chap's face and leaving egg all over it.
The fact is, though, it would be difficult even for Leonard Cohen backed by The Smiths to find any cause for miserable pessimism looking at this fixture. The Leeds United game plan is being applied with increasing effectiveness as the weeks go by and Our Brian schools his squad in the manual of How To Win Promotion The McDermott Way. True, we are relying greatly on the current hot streak of our favourite living Scotsman, Sir Ross McCormack - and much also depends on the recently-productive supply lines from wide areas.
There is that tinge of dread when you wonder what we'd do if either of these delicate pieces of apparatus developed a glitch - for then we would be cast back on the subsistence option of keeping it tight at the back and hoping something will happen for us further forward - not a happy thought. There is no reason to suppose that any such unfortunate situation might arise, but form is a fragile little flower and you never know when it might wither and die. Fortunately, we do have other options in attack - the club has a willing beanpole/battering ram in Matt Smith and he also has looked very effective of late. Everything else being equal though, we shall be relying on Super Rossco to maintain his lethal effectiveness and ensure that we score more than we let in, which is what football is all about after all.
The defensive side of that equation might be enhanced by the possible return of Scott Wootton from an ankle injury sustained in the win at Charlton. Who knows? Maybe my fondest current wish, a look at the Wootton-Zaliukas partnership, might be granted. More likely those two might form a back three with the slightly-misfiring Tom Lees, enabling our marauding wing-backs to inflict damage on Donny along the flanks.
For Doncaster, there is the possible return of QPR loanee Yun Suk-Yung at full back - he is given a "chance of figuring" against United though he's only resumed training this week after a month-long injury lay-off. Also on the recovery are two former Leeds players, of whom I must confess I'd never heard before, in Tom Husband and Paul Keegan, though these two are likely to miss out against their former club.
Leeds' record at the Keepmoat is so excellent that anything less than a convincing win would be a disappointment - and therein lies that troublesome worm of doubt. The one certain thing about any run of results is that it will surely end sooner or later. Leeds have played five at Donny's newish ground, winning four with the only blot being a goalless draw in season 2010/11. The slight nervousness which I know is apparent in this preview means I would be reasonably happy with a draw this time around - but I obviously need to man up and be a bit more gutsily optimistic than that.
I will therefore stick out my neck yet again, and go with United's recent habit of scoring three in this fixture. Two for Rossco and a belter from Rudy "Beast" Austin for me, with probably a consolation goal for the half-dozen home fans in the crowd