By Will Butcher

Simon Grayson believes Garry Monk has thrived at Leeds because owner Massimo Cellino has given his manager freedom and time.

Leeds’ former boss has watched from afar as the Yorkshire giants continue to steal a march on their Championship opponents, with five wins in their last six games taking them to fifth.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday, Grayson claimed that Leeds are “snowballing” and can achieve promotion to the Premier League this season.

This comes after the team limped to a 13th placed finish in last season’s Championship, with Cellino axing Uwe Rosler and Steve Evans.

“Leeds have got to a point where they are snowballing,” Grayson said. “If they continue in the form they are currently in, then they can go up.

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“Cellino has given Monk time and money and you can see the rewards. They’re difficult to stop and we found that out on Boxing Day in the 4-1 defeat.”

Monk is only a couple of months away from being Leeds’ longest-serving manager in the Cellino era since his arrival as owner, as he masterminds their assault on the top end of the league.

Currently in charge of Preston, Grayson saw his side demolished 4-1 at Deepdale by Leeds thanks to a Kemar Roofe inspired performance that saw Hadi Sacko, Souleymane Doukara and Pablo Hernandez also find the back of the net.

With Leeds sitting just seven points away from Newcastle who sit in an automatic promotion slot, promotion talk is gathering more and more momentum.

Grayson, 47, orchestrated Leeds promotion from the third tier of English football back into the Championship in 2010, winning 84 of his 169 league and cup matches in the dugout.

In other Leeds news, Danny Mills believes it would be fantastic if this happened at Elland Road this season.