By Craig Scott

7th Jul, 2020 | 6:30pm

Michael O'Neill makes honest admission ahead of Leeds v Stoke

Michael O’Neill has admitted that his Stoke City side are set for an “extremely difficult” match against Leeds United on Thursday.

Leeds welcome the Potters to Elland Road this week in a bid to continue strengthening their campaign to win automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Ahead of the fixture, ex-Northern Ireland manager O’Neill has spoken about how tough things are going to be for Stoke but believes that avoiding defeat can benefit his side’s fight to avoid relegation.

“We’re coming off a good performance and a good result and we’ll take that into Leeds, which is an extremely difficult game but one where there is possibly less expectation on us,” said O’Neill, as quoted by LeedsLive.

“If we can take something from that game it will help us and then we’ve got a game at home against Birmingham [City].

“Our focus is on Thursday. We can’t control what happens with teams around us and we are emphasising to players to concentrate on the game ahead of us, play that game and make sure you get as much as you can out of that game.”

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Leeds showed signs of major improvement in their 3-1 win away at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Everyone seemed to be ticking to the same tune and the players who came into the starting line-up managed to really impress.

It will be interesting to see who Marcelo Bielsa opts to start against Stoke.

Barry Douglas put in one of his best displays for Leeds at the weekend but Stuart Dallas is likely to be fit enough to come back into the side.

Ezgjan Alioski made his first start since the season resumed and has perhaps been one of Leeds’ best players in the last four games.

We’ll see what Bielsa will do but we’re confident he can put out one or two different line-ups that is capable of beating beleaguered Stoke.

In other Leeds United news, two players wanted by the Whites are set to be released.