Preview - Leeds v Brighton: play-off place within grasp

Our Seagulls correspondent - Patrick Gleeson

Our Seagulls correspondent - Patrick Gleeson

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Our Brighton and Hove Albion FC correspondent Patrick Gleeson looks ahead to the Seagulls vital next match.

Albion travel to Elland Road this weekend in an attempt to secure their place in the Championship play-offs as they face up against Leeds United.

The Seagulls need just a point to cement their place in the top six this year if Watford beat Leicester on Friday night, as Nottingham Forest have a far inferior goal difference to the Albion.

Team News

Gus Poyet’s squad is looking healthy going into the final few games of the season, with long term absentees Craig Mackail-Smith (Achilles) and Will Hoskins (knee) the only missing players.

Leonardo Ulloa could be called upon after being rested for Brighton’s 6-1 mauling of Blackpool last weekend, although Ashley Barnes, who scored twice in the game, is likely to keep his place.

Leeds are still without Davide Somma (knee) but Lee Peltier who returned to the bench in last week’s 1-0 loss to Birmingham could return to the starting line up.

Steve Morison could also get the nod to start the game after the former Norwich frontman overcame a knock to play out the final 15 minutes of the Birmingham defeat.

Form

Albion have hit form at the crucial point of the season and their 6-1 thumping of Blackpool on the South Coast has supporters dreaming of the play-offs. The Seagulls are now unbeaten in seven games and will be looking to continue their momentum for their promotion push.

Albion Last 5: W D W D D

Since the arrival of former Reading manager Brian McDermott at Leeds two weeks ago he has secured the club’s status as a Championship club with two wins and a loss. They will be wanting to inject some enthusiasm into the club as they start to prepare for next year.

Leeds Last 5: L W W L L

Head to Head

The two could not be separated in the reverse fixture at the Amex last November as the game finished in a 2-2 draw. A Craig Mackail-Smith brace was not enough for Albion to seal all three points and they were left cursing their luck after hitting the woodwork twice and watching Paddy Kenny deny Mackail-Smith his hat-trick from the penalty spot late on.

Players to Watch:

Will Buckley (Albion)

After a stunning first half of the season, the former Watford winger suffered a combination of injuries and poor form and found himself at the centre of criticism from some of the fans. However, he has enjoyed his return to the first team and his crisp strike against Blackpool opened the deadlock after just nine minutes.

Luke Varney (Leeds)

The 30-year-old striker has had a mixed bag since joining the club last year but he has found his feet again under Brian McDermott. Varney struck a quickfire double in Leeds’ Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Wednesday recently to overturn the Owls’ 1-0 lead and hand the Elland Road outfit all three points.