Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom insisted his players have not been affected by club chairman Andrea Radrizzani’s stinging criticism.
Radrizzani questioned the players’ commitment earlier this week after seeing Leeds’ play-off hopes fade after a run of just one win in 13 Sky Bet Championship matches.
Heckingbottom, installed as a replacement for the sacked Thomas Christiansen in early February, has won one of his seven games in charge.
“The players have been fine, part and parcel of being in this game is expectation,” Heckingbottom said ahead of Saturday’s derby clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
“You put yourself in the public eye and people are always going to comment, good or bad.
“The owner’s put his money in and has every right to say what he thinks is right. The players know that. It won’t change the players’ focus.”
Radrizzani, who completed his 100 per cent buy out of former owner Massimo Cellino in May, said in an interview he was particularly unimpressed with the players’ attitude during their recent defeat at Middlesbrough.
The Italian said he did not want this type of player representing the club.
“One of the things we have got to have is a real winning mentality and that’s not just the players,” Heckingbottom added.
“That’s across the board, everyone has to be better. When I look at it, errors have cost us more but in the Middlesbrough game we were outfought.
“That can’t happen. We have to out-battle other teams. But there is not a disconnect at the football club, there’s a real togetherness.”
Heckingbottom confirmed defender Liam Cooper (dead leg), striker Kemar Roofe (calf) and goalkeeper Andy Lonergan (neck) were still unavailable for the trip to Hillsborough.
The former Barnsley boss added local derbies were not what they were 10 years ago due to the clampdown on the physicality in the game.
“You have to acknowledge the fact it’s a derby even though derbies have changed a lot in the last 10 years,” he added.
“There is pride at stake, bragging rights, and we are desperate for the points.”
Leeds will chase their first win in four league games, while rivals Wednesday are bidding to halt a seven-game winless run to climb clear of relegation trouble.
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