By Alex Stevens

Dougie Freedman has hailed Garry Monk for transforming Leeds from no-hopers into a team with genuine Premier League promotion hopes.

The Yorkshire giants finished between 13th and 15th in the Championship in each of the five seasons before Monk took charge.

But the 38-year-old has overcome a difficult start to galvanise a team assembled on a shoestring budget and made them hot favourites to secure a place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Former Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Bolton manager Freedman watched Leeds beat fellow promotion candidates Brighton 2-0 at Elland Road on Saturday.

It secured Leeds’ position at fourth in the Championship table and former striker Freedman, 42, insists that much of the credit should go to manager Monk.

“What a wonderful job Garry Monk has done,” Freedman told Sky Sports 1’s live coverage of the match. “I’ve been so impressed by the team’s improvement.

“To a man, they were excellent against Brighton. All the players are buying into his methods and clearly playing for their manager. They are a real team.”

Leeds’ win over Brighton kept alive their hopes of automatic promotion, although they remain eight points adrift of the second-placed side with just eight matches of the campaign remaining.

Monk’s side are next in action on Saturday of next week they face another promotion candidate, Reading, away from home.

In other Leeds news, the Pontus Jansson omission mystery has taken a new twist.

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