O'Leary places faith in Smith

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The Independent Football

The Leeds manager, David O'Leary, is relying on Alan Smith's desire to carry a limping Leeds through to the last 16 of the Uefa Cup.

O'Leary's charges face Grasshopper of Zurich in tonight's third-round, second leg at Elland Road with a 2-1 lead, but hampered by a number of problems.

The list of injuries include Dominic Matteo, Stephen McPhail, Eirik Bakke, Michael Bridges, Lucas Radebe and Jacob Burns, while recent signings Robbie Fowler and Seth Johnson are ineligible.

It means O'Leary will again call on Smith to play as a right-winger, just as he did in Sunday's goalless draw at Fulham, with Robbie Keane partnering Mark Viduka up front.

While Smith's temperament is occasionally suspect – the striker starts a three-match ban this weekend following the fifth dismissal of his career in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa 10 days ago – in a time of crisis such as this, O'Leary needs such passion to lift his team.

While Smith can be a liability, he can also be an inspiration. O'Leary said: "I thought Smithy did a fantastic job for the team on Sunday. I know we jump on his back, and I'm the first to do so, but if I know one thing, when it comes to people wanting to play for this team then Smithy gives his all.

"When I told him he was playing right-wing on Sunday, he was not bothered. The only thing Smithy is concerned about is whether he is running on to that pitch a few minutes before kick-off. Obviously he would love to be centre-forward, but even if you asked him to play in goal then he would do so to the best of his ability."

O'Leary is wary that Smith's ambition often spills over into aggression."In wanting to do so well, because football is his love, it creates frustration," he added. "When he is not playing well the frustration mounts and he takes it out on other people and lets himself down."

Despite being allowed to nominate seven players as substitutes O'Leary has named only three players – Paul Robinson, Michael Duberry and Jason Wilcox – on the bench, compared to the four at the Hardturm Stadium in the first leg.

O'Leary firmly believes Leeds will be in the hat for next Wednesday's fourth-round and quarter-final draw and he added: "Despite us having probably the smallest bench in the history of the Uefa Cup, we will not be defensive. We know it will be tough and hard, but we will try to score goals. Our attitude won't change."

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