By Coral Barry
Noel Whelan believes that Leeds’ showdown with Rotherham on Saturday is essentially a relegation fight for both sides.
Leeds travel to face Steve Evans’ former team in the Championship ten points clear of the drop zone, but Whelan is adamant the Whites cannot relax until they are mathematically safe from relegation.
A run of three consecutive league victories and talk of a possible promotion push was ended by an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the hands of local rivals Huddersfield in Leeds’ last league outing and Whelan has admitted he thinks the Whites need to remain focused on avoiding the drop.
“There’s always a danger while there’s points there and it’s mathematically possible that you can drop in there, said Whelan speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post. “I don’t think anybody should be resting and thinking they are safe until it’s actually mathematically sealed that you can’t go down.
“You’ve got to keep playing for every single point until the end of the season and it’s about where we can finish as well.”
Leeds are currently 13th in the table and have a game in hand over the eight teams that separate them from the bottom three.
Under the guidance of former Leeds manager Neil Warnock, Rotherham have managed to spark a great escape from potential relegation after collecting 13 points from a possible 15 in recent weeks.
Warnock’s side have now dragged themselves away from the drop zone up to 20th and two points clear of relegation, but the Millers remain in a fight to survive.
Whelan believes the match-up is massive for both sides and says neither team can afford to lose.
The former Leeds striker said: “It now becomes a very, very important game for both clubs.
“Once again we can understand what Rotherham are playing for but Leeds are playing for their pride and to get back into a good mental state after taking a bit of a battering by Huddersfield.
“But Rotherham are in a good way at the moment with the results and turnaround in performances and they are fighting for survival.
“It now becomes a very, very important game and it puts something on the game rather than it being just a nothing game.
“This is a game where the two teams have got to gain something from it.”