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Press Conference hot topics: Smith on Play-Offs, Leeds, catching Albion and PFA Team of the Year

Dean Smith's Leeds United press conference Gallery: First look as James Chester returns to training
Press Conference hot topics: Smith on Play-Offs, Leeds, catching Albion and PFA Team of the Year

Dean Smith conducted his weekly press conference on Thursday.

See below the full transcript as he touched on Leeds, reaching the Play-Offs and having a near fully fit squad available to him.


On securing a Play-Off place...

It was always the target from the outset when I arrived here – to finish in the top two, if not the top six.

It's pleasing that we're in them now and that we still have a chance to get promoted.

On whether, at times, he believed it impossible...

I've always been an optimist by nature, and I've always believed in the squad of players we've got.

We've had moments where it seemed unlikely, no doubt. Towards the end of December and through January, when we had three of our four defenders who were right-backs, results weren't coming.

We didn't lose many, but we didn't win some we should have. Ultimately, that probably cost us finishing in the top two.

But our run has catapulted us into the Play-Offs with two games to spare. That's a tribute to the effort of these players.

On his highlight of the winning run...

For me, it's been the consistency.

When I came in, I wanted the culture to be that we didn't get too high when we win and didn't get too low when we lose.

We've got a really good environment here now. Players are pushing each other.

They're going nose to nose the day before a game!

On if it's been hard reminding players that the job is far from done...

Not at all. They know getting to the Play-Offs is not the be all and end all.

The goal is promotion.

Unfortunately we fell in the final last year and that's still in the minds of a lot of people here. 

But there's a lot of belief and smiles on faces here at the moment, among players, staff and fans. There's great togetherness throughout the club.

On the day-to-day focus...

I'm not thinking about Play-Offs at the moment – I've got to plan for Leeds United on Sunday.

My concentration is on that and the fact we're two points behind West Bromwich Albion. We want to finish above them if we can.

We'll have more of an idea come the game on Sunday about whether we can do that.

But generally speaking the plans remain the same. There's rules in place now about fielding much-changed teams.

For sure, we have to manage the loads of some players. We'll do that and try and keep winning.


On the intensity of the Leeds game, if they know automatic promotion is unlikely...

I don't think it'll have an effect.

They're programmed to win each game and they'll try and do that.

We're exactly the same. It'll be tough, but we want the win.

On having as many as six fully fit centre-backs for the Play-Offs...

It'd be a nice one to deal with!

James Chester is back training, Tommy Elphick was on the bench last week and Mile Jedinak has played very well. It gives me food for thought.

It's what I want – a full squad to choose from. It gives us great strength in depth.


On Tammy Abraham and Jack Grealish's PFA Team of the Year inclusion...

Jack has missed 14 games, so it shows what his peers think of him.

I always think that's the greatest recognition – when fellow players vote for you.

It's great for them both.

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Dan Connor
By @danconnor 25th April 2019