LEEDS boss Paul Heckingbottom says that he is getting a “better idea” of his players all the time as the weeks go by, but he has now tasted victory only twice in 19 games since his arrival from Barnsley.

United's latest loss came in a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Friday.

He said: “We learned a lot about the players and I am reluctant to make any negative judgements on the youngsters. We need a hunger and drive and for the players to earn their place.

“Whatever changes are made we want to produce a stronger squad and I am getting a better idea of the team every day.”

Heckingbottom added: “We gave away the ball too cheaply in the first half and it cost us. That is what was disappointing in the first period.

“We generally defended well but we should have been tighter to have prevented the goal. We lost the ball too cheaply.

“In the second half we had more possession and needed to score in our best spell in the first half hour when we chased the game.”

Meanwhile, Villa boss Steve Bruce is ready to embrace the challenge of trying to win promotion via the Championship play-offs for the third time in his career - should it come down to that.

Their win over Leeds was their second home victory in the space of four days, having also toppled Cardiff on Tuesday, and it leaves them fourth in the standings, four points behind the Bluebirds.

The battle between Villa, Fulham and Cardiff for the second automatic promotion place is set to go to the wire, but if his side cannot get into the top two, Bruce does not appear daunted by the prospect of being involved in the play-offs once again.

The 57-year-old, who has already guided Hull and Birmingham to the Premier League via a trip to Wembley, said: “If it goes that way, let’s look to the challenge.

“They are great games to be involved in and if you can get to Wembley there is nothing better.

“I’ve been fortunate to have done it twice previously so let’s hope I can do it a third time.”

Villa are guaranteed a play-off spot at the very least thanks to their win over Leeds, which was secured courtesy of Lewis Grabban’s 29th-minute goal.

“It was his fifth goal for Villa and his 17th of the season which is a great return,” said Bruce, who admits his side were not on top form but was pleased to see striker Jonathan Kodjia play 67 minutes as he steps up his return from injury.

“Basically, in the second half there were too many mistakes by both teams. I still think we were comfortable but it was not one of our best flowing displays,” the Villa boss added.

“Getting an hour from Jonathan Kodjia was the most important thing besides the result because we know how vital he is going to be for us in the coming weeks.”