By Russell Edge

4th Mar, 2018 | 9:32pm

Under-fire Leeds figure defends squad in brutal assessment of Middlesbrough loss

Leeds United midfielder Eunan O’Kane has torn apart the side’s performance at Middlesbrough but has defended his team mates from accusations of a lack of leadership in the dressing room.

The Whites suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Boro on Friday night, Patrick Bamford netting a hat trick as the home side dominated Paul Heckingbottom’s men in almost every department.

It was a big blow in the club’s hopes of securing a top six finish this season, pushing them into 12th to sit eight points adrift of Bristol City in sixth, and O’Kane, who came under heavy fire from fans for his performance, insisted that displays like that demonstrated they were not good enough to be competing for a play off place come the end of the campaign.

However he was quick to rubbish any suggestion that the Leeds squad were weak characters, and insisted they would be the ones to take charge ahead of Wednesday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Delivering his brutal assessment, he told the Yorkshire Post: “If we play like we did at Middlesbrough then we are very far off it (top six). It was a very under-par performance from us.

“I do not know what to say; I think the only way we can put it is that we were second-best for the whole night and we deserved to be beaten and maybe they could have scored a few more goals.

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“To judge us purely on the Middlesbrough game is extremely harsh. In terms of lacking leaders, there are a lot of leaders in our dressing room, people who have got a lot of experience.

“When I look around our dressing room I do not feel that we have weak characters. We have some very strong ones and it is about them stepping to the fore.”

Football Insider verdict

O’Kane might insist that the squad has some strong leaders in their midst, but judging by the display against MIddlesbrough, every single one of them had gone on holiday. It was a bitterly disappointing display for the travelling fans as they watched their side lack not just the talent to take on Boro, but the heart and the desire. Paul Heckingbottom has a lot of work to do and really this season just needs to be about consolidation before building for the next campaign. However, if performances continue in the same vein as against Boro, and the slide down the table continues, then maybe the manager is not cut out for the job.

In other Leeds United news, here are FIVE reasons why Samuel Saiz must be sold this summer – and why it makes perfect sense.

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