Football UEFA Cup: Radebe prepares hot reception for Spartak

Click to follow
The Independent Online
LUCAS RADEBE is planning to come out of hiding tonight in an attempt to shoot down Spartak Moscow and fire his side into the last 16 of the Uefa Cup.

The Leeds United captain will lead United out in to what he is expecting to be "a cauldron" at Elland Road, given that Spartak have waged a verbal war against Leeds for more than two weeks. The Russian League champions' ceaseless critical campaign, however, is one which worked to perfection last Thursday in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, when a fired-up Spartak side won the first leg of the third-round tie 2-1.

But Leeds are high on confidence as Radebe, who missed last week's tie due to suspension - and the previous weekend's victory over Southampton - returned to captain his side back to the top of the Premiership in Sunday's win over Derby.

"I just couldn't watch the Southampton game," Radebe recalled. "I didn't want to watch it. I didn't want to be at the ground, so I just went home.

"But then I couldn't even look at the television. It was the same when the team were out in Bulgaria. I found myself peering from behind the settee. But we can overturn the deficit. We've got the players to do it because we're all confident and we'll have a great crowd behind us on our own patch. It's going to be a cauldron. The atmosphere will be superb and the fans could prove the difference."

Spartak seem to have done their utmost to wind up the Leeds manager, David O'Leary, and his players, with the Moscow captain, Egor Titov, this week claiming that Leeds are "nothing special".

O'Leary is hopeful that David Batty, who has missed the last two games with a calf injury, will be fit enough to bolster the midfield, while Batty's colleague Stephen McPhail will definitely play despite limping off at Derby with an ankle problem. Alan Smith is expected to be restored to the frontline ahead of Darren Huckerby.