Steve Evans challenges his Leeds side to match up to Championship's 'benchmark' side Middlesbrough in every department

Leeds United East Stand

The Whites square off with the Championship's automatic-promotion chasers at Elland Road on Monday.

Steve Evans has challenged his Leeds United squad to match up to Middlesbrough in every department when the two sides meet at Elland Road on Monday, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The clash presents Aitor Karanka's men with the opportunity to move back to the top of the Championship, after Hull's victory over Blackburn on Saturday took the Tigers to the summit. And while Evans suggested that Boro deserve to be closing in on promotion to the Premier League, he asked his squad to use the game as a chance to prove themselves.

"Not many people would dispute that Middlesbrough are the best side in the division but I want a performance which shows that we can go up against that benchmark. I want my left-back to be better than their left-back. I want my midfield to be better than their midfield. I want to see us win every battle," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"I want us to match up to them in every position and show people watching what this team's really about. I want us to show exactly where we are versus the benchmark because we're all a bit annoyed about the way things have gone since Christmas."

With Leeds' slim hopes of reaching the play-offs meaning that even a victory over the automatic-promotion chasers will do little to suggest that a top six spot is still possible for this season - United would still be 12 points adrift of Derby if they bagged the win against Boro - Evans will be hoping to see the kind of performance that ends their poor recent run at the very least.

The Whites have won just one of their last eight league games, and now find themselves closer to the bottom three than they do to the top six. 

Given their poor recent form, and the result from the last time these two sides met - which saw Middlesbrough win 3-0 thanks to several incidents of comical defending from Leeds - Evans will be hoping that his challenge inspires the squad to prove that they are better than what they have shown recently.

And he will believe that if he can inspire them to defeat one of the leading sides in the division, then perhaps he will have no problem convincing them that they are still capable of crashing the promotion party this season. 

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