FOOTBALL: Masinga pursues starting place

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The Independent Online
Phil Masinga has his sights set on a regular place in Leeds' first team after his FA Cup hat-trick. The South African striker, who claims to have scored "a few hat-tricks" in his homeland, completed his first in English football in a devastating 2

3-minute burst after coming on as a 91st-minute substitute for Rod Wallace against Walsall at Elland Road on Tuesday night.

His devastating finishing finally subdued the Third Division side's resistance after they twice fought back to take the game into extra time at 2-2.

It was a dream fulfilled for the talented marksman, but he has learned enough since his move to England six months ago to know that even an extra-time hat-trick cannot guarantee a place in Howard Wilkinson's starting line-up.

"All I can do is my best when I am picked - I can't do any more than that," said Masinga, who had scored only three goals in his previous 11 outings since arriving at Elland Road. "I was delighted just to get on to the pitch, but then to score a hat-trick is a dream come true."

Wilkinson described Masinga's triple as "magnificent", but could soon be facing selection problems once the £3.4m signing of the Eintracht Frankfurt striker, Anthony Yeboah, is settled.

Leeds remain confident of completing Yeboah's signing and have responded to a request from the Department of Employment for more information about the player's three-year contract, which has an opt-out clause after 12 months if Yeboah fails to settle at Elland Road.

But even the imminent arrival of Yeboah to increase competition, which already has Masinga, Brian Deane and the impressive youngster Noel Whelan fighting for places, has failed to dampen the South African's joy.

"I've seen a lot of FA Cup football on video back home in South Africa and I've always wanted to play in the competition - it's a bit special. I thought I would get my chance when the score got to 2-2 because we would probably need something a bit different."

Defender David Wetherall, who scored a last-minute equaliser against Walsall in the first game at Bescott Stadium to keep Leeds in the competition before scoring at both ends in the replay, is facing a two-match ban after collecting his sixth booking of the season.

Wetherall will miss the re-arranged visit to the Premiership pace-setters, Blackburn Rovers, on 1 February and the trip to Wimbledon three days later.

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