I KNOW HOW THEY FEEL

Black­burn’s Matt Kil­gal­lon has ev­ery sym­pa­thy with the cur­rent Leeds squad

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Stu­art Clarke

MATT KIL­GAL­LON knows a thing or two about melt­downs at Leeds and the Black­burn de­fender has sym­pa­thised with the fans fol­low­ing the take-over saga in­volv­ing Mas­simo Cellino.

The Foot­ball League ini­tially blocked Cagliari owner Cellino from buy­ing a ma­jor­ity stake in Leeds, be­lieved to be worth £25m, at the end of March fol­low­ing his re­cent con­vic­tion in a Sar­dinia court for tax eva­sion.

The Ital­ian busi­ness­man yes­ter­day won his ap­peal but United’s play­ers have been forced to de­fer part of their wages for March as cri­sis again en­gulfs El­land Road.

This fol­lows the drama on trans­fer dead­line day in Jan­uary when boss Brian McDer­mott ap­peared to be sacked – only to re­turn days later.

For­mer Read­ing boss McDer­mott, who re­placed Neil Warnock only last April, de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as a “joke” on and off the pitch af­ter Tues­day’s 1-0 home de­feat to strug­gling Charl­ton.

Downhill

And Kil­gal­lon, who was sold to raise funds just months be­fore the three-times English cham­pi­ons were rel­e­gated to League One in 2007, feels sorry for the fans.

“It’s re­ally sad to see the sit­u­a­tion at Leeds, ev­ery­thing seems to go wrong for them and the fans,” said Kil­gal­lon. “I’ve come into Black­burn and ev­ery­one asks me about Leeds.

“A lot of people have a soft spot for the club.

“I’ve heard the play­ers haven’t been paid, which is a shame re­ally be­cause they have un­be­liev­able fans there, but they can’t seem to get it right at the mo­ment.”

Kil­gal­lon is now a rel­a­tive vet­eran at 30 but he casts his mind back to his early years at El­land Road when the club were al­most brought to their knees by fi­nan­cial un­cer­tainty.

“I was at Leeds when it all went downhill last time but be­cause I was young I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand,” he added.

“I was only 17 so I was just happy to be train­ing with the first team.

“Then all of a sud­den all of the top play­ers left, we got rel­e­gated and be­fore I knew it I was start­ing games in the Cham­pi­onship.

“It was a hard first sea­son, but in the sec­ond year we ended up in the play-offs. We lost in the fi­nal and from then on it wasn’t too good, so it’s a shame, but hope­fully there are brighter times around the cor­ner.”

Kil­gal­lon signed for Rovers in the sum­mer on a free trans­fer from Sun­der­land, but found his op­por­tu­ni­ties limited in the early sea­son as he backed up Scott Dann and Grant Han­ley.

Con­fi­dent

But Dann’s de­par­ture to Crys­tal Palace has el­e­vated the for­mer Eng­land U21 in­ter­na­tional to a start­ing role.

And the de­fender says that he was con­fi­dent that he could fill the for­mer Birm­ing­ham man’s shoes.

“I’ve got my chance to play now and I’m lov­ing play­ing again,” he said

“Scott’s de­par­ture was a big loss for the club but they knew they had me there to go straight in for him.

“I think when you lose your best player and you’ve got no back-up, that’s when it’s an is­sue, but I was ready to step in if Scott went and that’s what hap­pened.

“I was pre­pared to wait for my chance.The boss (Gary Bowyer) told me when I signed for Black­burn that he was go­ing to start with Scott and Grant be­cause they did so well last sea­son and kept us up.

“I un­der­stood where he was com­ing from so I was pa­tient, kept my­self fit and trained hard be­cause I knew I could be called upon when­ever.

“I’ve also en­joyed work­ing with the young de­fend­ers like Grant and Michael Keane – it’s a bit of a dif­fer­ent role for me.

“I’ve al­ways been the young cen­tre-half at other clubs I’ve played for, but now I’m re­ally en­joyed be­ing one of the more vo­cal people in the team.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

NEW CHANCE: Matt Kil­gal­lon cel­e­brates a goal for Black­burn. In­set: Play­ing for Leeds

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