Pablo Hernandez believes it is all still to play for in the Championship.
The Leeds midfielder had been on-loan from Qatari side Al-Arabi and has now signed a permanent deal until the end of the season, with the club having an option to extend his deal for a further 12 months.
Pablo Hernandez has made 15 Championship appearances so far and sees tonight as potentially a massive opportunity.
With Reading losing last night, if Leeds United beat Derby County at Elland Road tonight, the Yorkshire club will be only four points behind Newcastle and six adrift of Brighton (who also have a game in hand).
The 31 year-old concedes that both Newcastle and Brighton are ‘strong teams’ but that ‘it is a mistake to think they are already guaranteed promotion’.
All of the top six look to have tricky games this weekend (see fixtures below) and as Reading’s home defeat to QPR has shown, no result would surprise you.
Newcastle have failed to properly break away over the festive period due to defeats against Sheff Wed and Blackburn – but a win at Brentford combined with the right results elsewhere, could once again see Newcastle go nine points clear of third and with a far superior goal difference compared to those below.
A defeat at Griffin Park though, could potentially see Huddersfield and Leeds go only three and four points behind respectively.
“It will be a difficult game, we know this because we lost 1-0 when we last played against Derby and they are a strong team.
“We are focused on the next game and this is the most important game of the season because it is the next one.
“Currently, I think we are in a good moment and we can get the win, we want to open a gap between us and Derby.
“It is important for us to open a gap between us and seventh because you can play more calmly on the pitch which is a benefit to us, knowing that the gap is there.
“Newcastle and Brighton are strong teams and it won’t be easy to catch them but I think it is a mistake to think they are already guaranteed promotion.
“We all want to try and get to the Premier League this season but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves and we just need to take it game by game.
“It is not an easy challenge for us but I think we have a chance if we keep continuing in the positive way we have been – I would be very happy if I could help the club achieve this and play in the Premier League with Leeds United.”
The top of the table now looks like this, with all having played 25 games apart from Brighton with a game in hand:
54 Brighton (GD +25)
52 Newcastle (+28)
46 Reading (+3)
46 Huddersfield (+2)
45 Leeds (+10)
42 Sheff Wed (+4)
40 Derby County (+6)
This weekend’s fixtures are all tricky for those in the top seven and a win for Newcastle could be soul destroying for anybody still harbouring hopes of breaking into the top two:
Leeds v Derby (Friday night)
Preston v Brighton
Sheff Wed v Huddersfield