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Preview: Leeds United vs. Barnsley - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Championship clash between Leeds United and Barnsley, including team news and predicted lineups.

Leeds United can all but guarantee promotion to the Premier League when they welcome the Championship's basement side Barnsley to Elland Road on Thursday.

Leeds have a six-point lead over third-placed Brentford before the Bees take on Preston North End on Wednesday, while Barnsley are three points adrift of safety at this very late stage.

Match preview

Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez celebrates scoring against Swansea City in the Championship on July 12, 2020© Reuters

There have been some inevitable blips along the way, but Leeds' Premier League dream is set to come to fruition as they boast a two-point lead atop the Championship rankings with three games remaining.

West Bromwich Albion missed the chance to temporarily overtake Leeds as the Baggies were held to a goalless draw by fellow promotion hopefuls Fulham on Tuesday, and Leeds have a brilliant chance to move even further clear in the race for automatic promotion with a win on Thursday.

Marcelo Bielsa's side were forced to do it the hard way against Swansea City on Sunday, however, with Pablo Hernandez netting an 89th-minute winner off the bench to extend the Whites' winning run in the second tier to three games.

The 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City following the return of the Championship was simply a minor setback on Leeds' journey back to the big time, and if Brentford fail to take all three points against Preston, Bielsa's side can confirm their promotion to the Premier League with victory over Barnsley.

The Whites have tasted success in five out of their last six matches on home soil and have only conceded one goal in that time, although Bielsa will have to make do without Kalvin Phillips for the remainder of the campaign after the midfielder picked up a knee injury.

Barnsley boss Gerhard Struber on February 8, 2020© Reuters

In contrast, Barnsley's survival hopes are looking all the more slim despite managing to hold an in-form Wigan Athletic side to a goalless stalemate last time out.

One defeat from six games since the second tier returned is not bad reading whatsoever, but the Championship's basement team are now three points adrift of Charlton Athletic with three games of the season remaining.

Gerhard Struber's men enjoyed victories over Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers in the month of June, leading to optimism that Barnsley could yet produce a great escape and rise above the dotted line in the latter stages of the campaign.

However, should the Tykes fail to win against Leeds and Charlton triumph over Birmingham City the day before, Struber's side may as well start packing their bags and begin preparations for an immediate return to League One - especially with their final two fixtures coming against promotion-chasing sides in Nottingham Forest and Brentford.

Leeds United Championship form: LWDWWW

Barnsley Championship form: WDWLDD

Team News

Kalvin Phillips in action for Leeds United on October 23, 2019© Reuters

With Phillips set to miss out Leeds' remaining three games, Bielsa has confirmed that Ben White is set to deputise in midfield for the title hopefuls.

White being pushed further forward would leave a spot open alongside Liam Cooper in the heart of defence, meaning Gaetano Berardi could be handed a first start since March for the Whites.

Kiko Casilla's suspension has now come to an end and the Spaniard is available for selection, but Illan Meslier is expected to keep his place in between the sticks for Bielsa's men.

Following his late winner in the dying embers of the game against Swansea, Hernandez is likely to start in the middle of the park.

As for Barnsley, Romal Palmer will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, but Struber otherwise has a clean bill of health as the Tykes look to keep their faint hopes of survival alive.

Should Struber revert back to a 3-4-1-2 formation, centre-back Aapo Halme could come back into the fold with Jordan Williams dropping to the bench.

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas; White; Costa, Klich, Hernandez, Harrison; Bamford

Barnsley possible starting lineup:
Sahin-Radlinger; Sollbauer, Andersen, Halme; Ludewig, Mowatt, Styles, Ritzmaier; Woodrow; Brown, Chaplin

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We say: Leeds United 3-0 Barnsley

The confidence of Bielsa's men will be through the roof at the moment, and Leeds have turned Elland Road into a fortress over the past few weeks. Barnsley are certainly trying to put up a fight as they attempt to pull off a miraculous escape from the relegation zone, but Leeds are the clear favourites for this one and their Premier League status could be confirmed by the close of play on Thursday.


Who will win Thursday's Championship clash between Leeds United and Barnsley?

Leeds United
Leeds United
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Kalvin Phillips in action for Leeds United on October 23, 2019
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Kalvin Phillips likely to miss Leeds run-in with knee injury
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rhs 2.0
CLeeds UnitedLeeds46289977354293
4Cardiff CityCardiff4619161168581073
5Swansea CitySwansea461816126253970
6Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest461816125850870
8Preston North EndPreston461812165954566
9Derby CountyDerby461713166264-264
10Blackburn RoversBlackburn461712176663363
11Bristol City461712176065-563
12Queens Park RangersQPR461610206776-958
14Stoke CityStoke46168226268-656
15Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461511205866-856
17Huddersfield TownHuddersfield461312215270-1851
18Luton TownLuton46149235482-2851
19Birmingham CityBirmingham461214205475-2150
RCharlton AthleticCharlton461212225065-1548
RWigan AthleticWigan461514175756147
RHull City46129255787-3045

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