FOOTBALL NEWS

United v Leeds
FA Cup third round
Sun 3 Jan (13:00 GMT)
Old Trafford

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31/12/2009 09:20, Report by James Tuck
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Match Pack: Leeds

United face Leeds for the first time in nearly six years in Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie...

Form guide: Two divisions separate the sides, but that could be down to one next season as Leeds are flying in League One, six points clear at the top with a game in hand. They are unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions stretching back to October, when they suffered their only league defeat of the season so far at Millwall. Leeds' last outing was on Monday, when they won 4-2 at Stockport. United go into the cup tie having once again closed the gap on Chelsea at the Premier League summit to two points, thanks to Wednesday's 5-0 win over Wigan. The last time the sides met was at Old Trafford in February 2004, when Paul Scholes cancelled out soon-to-be-Red Alan Smith's opener. Leeds' decline from Champions League semi-finalists to third-tier obscurity began that season. United triumphed in the last FA Cup tie with Leeds at OT, 3-1 in February 1995.

Ins and outs: Defender Leigh Bromby is suspended for Leeds after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Stockport, but otherwise the visitors have no new injury worries and are missing only long-term absentee Ben Parker and defender Rui Marques, who is on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Angola. United are welcoming back more and more players with each passing game and can now field a recognised back four. Edwin van der Sar is on compassionate leave, while John O'Shea, Nani and Owen Hargreaves are still sidelined. Sunday's game will come too soon for Rio Ferdinand, who has been doing some light jogging, but both Jonny Evans and Gary Neville could feature following a return to fitness. Mame Biram Diouf is ineligible for the cup tie but could be in action for the Reds in January after being granted a work permit.

Star man: Free-scoring striker Jermaine Beckford began his career as a Chelsea trainee, but was released at 19 and only rejoined the pro ranks with Leeds after a prolific spell with non-league Wealdstone. The pacy 26-year-old hit 27 goals in Leeds' run to the League One play-offs last season and has 19 to his name already this term.

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