x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Leeds v Leeds after friendly farce in Italy

Leeds United’s already-chaotic pre-season descended into farce on Sunday after their scheduled friendly opponents failed to turn up.

Players applaud fans who have passed away in the last 12 months during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Sheffield at Elland Road on August 17, 2013 in Leeds, England. Tim Keeton/Getty Images
Players applaud fans who have passed away in the last 12 months during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Sheffield at Elland Road on August 17, 2013 in Leeds, England. Tim Keeton/Getty Images

Leeds United’s already-chaotic pre-season descended into farce on Sunday after their scheduled friendly opponents failed to turn up.

The English Championship side had been due to continue their preparations for the new campaign with a match against Viitorul Constanta in Santa Cristina, Italy.

But the Romanian side never arrived for the fixture, forcing boss Dave Hockaday to pit two Leeds XIs against each other instead.

The club said on Twitter: “Our game with Viitorul Constanta has been forced to be called off due to the Romanian side not turning up at the ground. United will now field two Leeds XIs that will play against each other in the absence of an opposition for the travelling supporters.”

Hockaday, whose side won their opening match 16-0 against FC Gherdeina on Thursday, has been battling to win over Leeds fans after the club’s owner Massimo Cellino made the controversial decision to hire the former Forest Green boss last month.

Although Hockaday had no experience of managing in the Football League and had been out of work since leaving Forest Green in October, he was surprisingly given the task of succeeding Brian McDermott, who quit Elland Road in May.

Cellino wants Leeds, who have not played in the Premier League since relegation in 2004, to compete for promotion from the second tier.

But he sold star striker Ross McCormack to Championship rivals Fulham for £11 million last week and has risked infuriating his players by ordering them to live in Leeds and telling them that before home games they have to stay together, have dinner together and go to the match together.

Earlier this month, it was reported the Professional Footballers’ Association is investigating claims Cellino ordered Hockaday not to select Paddy Kenny because of his birth date.

Reports claim the Italian made the move because he considers the goalkeeper to be bad luck because he was born on May 17.

Leeds and Kenny declined to comment on the allegations.

But Cellino had seats at his former club Cagliari taken out and replaced with 16B because he dislikes number 17.

He is also unhappy with Kenny’s fitness and the player has not been taken on their pre-season trip to Italy.

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