Senegalese star on his return to action and his Elland Road happiness...
El-Hadji Diouf was delighted to complete his first 90 minutes of the season this week.
The Senegalese striker played the full game for the Development Squad at Barnsley on Monday and, despite ending in a 3-0 defeat, the game proved a useful exercise for a player who missed pre-season due to a shin injury.
“It was a good thing playing on Monday,” said El-Hadji. “I got a great feeling and I think that it is a good thing to have after coming back after a long injury. It is always difficult to find the sensation. But all I can say is I’m alright, I’m nearly there.
“It is the first time that I have had a long injury in my life and I have been playing for a long time. I’m always positive and I have to be positive. I know I can come back early and strong and we can start winning games.”
The former Liverpool star provided some added experience to a team that largely comprised of young professionals.
“We have a good Academy and if you saw the game on Monday we didn’t deserve to lose 3-0,” said El-Hadji.
“But that is my experience talking. With the first team that goal wouldn’t have happened because we have players like Rudy or Greeny, but we just need to learn. Like Redders said the young boys just have to learn from the first team.
“I was at Barnsley to improve my fitness and now I’m going to do everything to get my place in the first team.”
The player also shrugged off the recent media speculation, dismissed by Brian McDermott, about his future at the club.
“I’m here and I’m happy in Leeds,” said El-Hadji. “I think everyone likes me here as well. The gaffer gave me 100 per cent confidence and it’s up to me now to not disappoint him.
"I’m training hard to get better and improve my fitness and my football will do the talking.
“Speculation says that Dioufy is going but I see my future here. I’m happy here and I want to play for Leeds United, it is a great club. Myself, the gaffer and club have the same ambition, going into the Premier League next season.
“The fans like me, that’s why I do everything to be at my best level for the fans. We have some of the best fans in the world and that’s a reason I am happy here. I’m going to do everything to make them happy.”
Asked if the club can end our top-flight drought and return to the Premier League this season, El-Hadji said: “I think so, with the gaffer and the team we have I think we can do it.
“The gaffer is a winner and we have a team of winners. This is the season to get everyone together to get us in the Premier League next season.”