By Wayne Veysey

29th Dec, 2016 | 10:42pm

Steve Bruce makes massive claim about Leeds in wake of draw v Aston Villa

By Alex Stevens

Steve Bruce has hailed the Leeds side that drew 1-1 against Aston Villa on Thursday night as the best produced by the club “in a few years”.

The Yorkshire giants have been in the doldrums since being relegated from the Premier League in 2004 and have even had a lengthy spell in England’s third tier.

But Leeds appear to be on the rise under Garry Monk, whose side have achieved a series of notable wins this season to put themselves in contention for one of the three promotion places.

Monk’s team dominated the second half of a captivating encounter at Villa Park and went ahead through a Pontus Jansson header but Jonathan Kodjia’s late penalty ensured the spoils were shared.

Experienced manager Bruce subsequently paid tribute to Monk’s resurgent team as he outlined their attributes and hailed them as promotion contender.

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“They’re the best Leeds team I’ve seen in a few years,” said Bruce, as quoted by the personal Twitter account of Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay. “They’re confident and they’re playing well. Serious contenders? Yes.”

Bruce’s massive claim further demonstrates the esteem in which Leeds are being held by the major figures in the game.

Monk’s team did not take the opportunity to climb to third in the table but still leapfrogged Huddersfield to secure fourth position.

The 37-year-old former Swansea boss, who was appointed at Elland Road, on a one-year contract during the summer, has made a huge impact at a club that stuttered to a 13th place finish last season.

A widely held view by Bruce and other is that Leeds have genuine ambitions of clinching a place in the play-offs, although automatic promotion might be considered a more distant objective.

The Yorkshire giants are seven points behind second-placed Newcastle, who have a game in hand.

In other Leeds news, fans took to Twitter to pan the a 25-year-old in the wake of his performance against Villa.