By Mark Walker, PA
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch will not let his heart rule his head when he takes charge of his first FA Cup tie on Sunday at Cardiff.
Marsch’s main objective is to retain Leeds’ Premier League status, but the romance of world football’s oldest knockout competition is not completely lost on the 49-year-old American.
When asked if he had dreamt of lifting the famous trophy with Leeds, Marsch said: “Talking about raising trophies right now – we’re not at that stage as a club, but you don’t do this without that kind of focus in mind.
“We’re continuing to try to build a process here that’s about improvement, week by week, year by year.
“But, you know, even seeing what Crystal Palace did last year (they reached the semi-finals), I think for people it’s still is a reminder that the possibilities are there, but you have to just take it one step at a time.”
Leeds have a poor recent FA Cup record having fallen at the first hurdle in each of the last five seasons.
They have also been dumped out of the competition by the likes of Hereford (2007), Histon (2008), Rochdale (2014), Sutton (2017), Newport (2018) and Crawley (2021).
And since falling victim to another famous cup upset against Sunday’s opponents in 2002 – when Cardiff were in the third tier and Leeds top of the old Premiership – the Yorkshire club have gone beyond the fourth round on just three occasions.
Leeds’ board are desperate for an extended and long-overdue run in the competition and if the Premier League remains Marsch’s priority, he insisted he has targeted victory in Cardiff and will name his side accordingly.
The former Salzburg and Leipzig head coach, whose side resume league duties at Aston Villa next Friday, added: “We believe that a cup run can give us momentum.
“The strategy for this match is certainly, with enough break in between (the next league game), to get as many guys prepared to play as possible and then to make sure we have a team that will go after it in every way.”
Leeds could hand a debut to new signing Max Wober, who has followed Marsch and former Salzburg team-mates Brenden Aaronson and Rasmus Kristensen to Elland Road.
Wober, who was captain of the Austrian club, signed on Tuesday for a reported fee in the region of £10-12million and can operate in a variety of left-sided defensive positions.
Patrick Bamford is closing in on his first appearance since October after having groin surgery during the World Cup break but is unlikely to feature, while Adam Forshaw (hip) and Luis Sinisterra (foot) are still unavailable.