Javi Gracia only interested in ‘next three points’ as Leeds prepare for Palace

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Leeds boss Javi Gracia says his players will continue to play every game “as if it was a final” in their bid to retain Premier League status.

Gracia’s side jumped out of the bottom three after Tuesday night’s home win against Nottingham Forest and face another relegation rival, Crystal Palace, at Elland Road on Sunday.

The laser-focused Spaniard said: “We can speak about how important it is to get six points in two games, but I’m not watching our last game to give more or less importance to the next.

“For sure we need to win the next game, but we did in all the different games we played before. Now it’s a new game where we know our objective in play and we need the points.

“Now we try to be focused in that game and give all the importance as if it was a final for us. We need the points in play and we have to play with that mentality.”

Victory over Forest lifted Leeds up five places to 13th, but when asked if that had eased the pressure on the club, Gracia said: “For me nothing has changed.

“We need more points and we try to play with the same desire and the same energy.”

The former Watford boss refused to be drawn on a possible points target when asked if 40 would still be needed in the closest relegation race the Premier League has seen.

“I don’t know,” he said. “The next three points, I need them. The next three points. With that feeling, we play the games.

“I’m concerned only about the points that are in play in the next game.”

Leeds will bid to leapfrog Palace in the table with victory on Sunday and Gracia is looking forward to meeting back up with Roy Hodgson.

The veteran boss will take charge of his second game for Palace since being reappointed as manager until the end of the season after Patrick Vieira was sacked last month.

Gracia added: “I expect a very difficult game for sure, like all the games in this competition.

“In this case with a new manager that I had opportunity to face when I was at Watford. I know him very well.

“I know he’s a very good manager. Very nice people, all the staff, in all the different games we played, they always had a very good behaviour.

“It will be a pleasure to see him again and to say hello again.”

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