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Season preview: Leeds United

Season preview: Leeds United
© PA Photos
As the new Championship campaign edges closer, we look ahead to how Leeds United will fare over the coming months.

With the Championship season beginning this coming weekend, Sports Mole casts its eye over Leeds United's summer and their prospects under the management of Brian McDermott for the 2013-14 campaign.

In:

Noel Hunt (From Reading, Free), Luke Murphy (From Crewe Alexander, £1m), Matt Smith (From Oldham, Free)

Out:

Steve Morison (To Millwall, Loan), Patrick Antelmi (Released), Leigh Bromby (Released), Paul Connolly (Released), Monty Gimpel (Released), Paddy Kisnorbo (Released), Sanchez Payne (Released), Jordan Snodin (Released), Davide Somma (Released)

Last Season: 13th

Manager: Brian McDermott

Three key players:


Sam Byram, Leeds United defender© PA Photos
Sam Byram - The 19-year-old started last season as an untested youngster, but ended it as many supporters' Player of the Year. Having made his senior debut in early August, he would go on to earn a large amount of praise for the marking job that he produced on Matt Jarvis - then of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Byram was virtually ever present since that point and showed that he has the makings of a very good modern day full-back. He is an able defender who can be a threat in the opposition's half - highlighted by his three goals last term. He has been linked with a host of clubs, including Manchester City, but McDermott recently insisted that the Thurrock-born defender is keen to stay at Elland Road.


Leeds United forward El-Hadji Diouf celebrates scoring his sides second goal against Birmingham City on January 15, 2013© PA Photos
El Hadji Diouf - The former Senegal international is one of the most Marmite footballers to have played the game. He even splits opinion among his own supporters, such is the baggage that follows him around. The fact of the matter is that when his head is in the right place, he is a useful asset in the Championship. He has not had the best of summers, having been physically assaulted back in his homeland, but McDermott will be hoping that he can tame the 32-year-old. If he can, Leeds have a potential match-winner on their hands. In true Diouf style, though, he will miss the first game of the season because of suspension!


West Ham's Ricardo Vaz Te and Reading's Noel Hunt battle for the ball on December 29, 2012© PA Photos
Noel Hunt - Leeds may have struggled to land the Republic of Ireland striker had it not been for McDermott, such is the strength of the relationship that the pair share from their time together at Reading. What Leeds have now got is a focal point in attack - something that has been missing since Luciano Becchio departed for Norwich City in January. He has shown given a run of games that he is an able goalscorer and what's more, his tireless work rate is bound to make him a favourite of the Leeds fans.

First game: Brighton & Hove Albion (H), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: Leeds have a nine-year itch to scratch. They were relegated from the Premier League back in 2004 and since then, there have been more lows than highs for the Elland Road faithful. There is a bit more of a buzz around the place following the appointment of McDermott, thanks largely to the fact that he led Reading back to the top flight in 2012. He had a good squad to work with at the Madejski Stadium, though, while the one that he has inherited still needs some care and attention. If he can work his magic in the transfer market, then a push for the playoffs may be in the offing, but as it stands, they look likely to fall short again.

Predicted finish: 12th

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Leeds United's Sam Byram after scoring against Peterborough on March 12, 2013
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CManchester CityMan City38275683325186
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd382111673442974
3Liverpool38209968422669
4Chelsea381910958362267
5Leicester CityLeicester382061268501866
6West Ham UnitedWest Ham381981162471565
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9Leeds UnitedLeeds38185156254859
10Everton38178134748-159
11Aston Villa38167155546955
12Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174662-1645
13Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38129173652-1645
14Crystal Palace38128184166-2544
15Southampton38127194768-2143
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914154046-641
17Burnley38109193355-2239
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RWest Bromwich AlbionWest Brom38511223576-4126
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3872292063-4323

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