LEEDS United are working hard on bringing in at least one new player in time to play in tomorrow’s FA Cup third round tie against Birmingham City at Elland Road, writes Tony Harber.
United have confirmed that the loan of defender Alan Tate from Swansea has been extended until January 27, but manager Neil Warnock is also hopeful a deal for Stoke midfielder Michael Tonge can be completed and he has other irons in the fire as well.
Tonge’s three-month loan spell at Elland Road ended after the Middlesbrough match on December 22 and in his absence from the team Leeds have been well beaten twice at Nottingham Forest and Hull and were far from impressive in winning 1-0 against Bolton Wanderers.
Warnock wants to bring the player back to the club on a permanent basis with talks at an advanced stage.
United are also in the market for a winger after the loan spell of West Brom’s Jerome Thomas ended this week, but a striker is no longer a priority following the return to fitness of Davide Somma.
Leeds have been heavily linked with moves for QPR defender Clint Hill and midfielder Shaun Derry, but Rangers boss Harry Redknapp is reluctant to let the duo go after their return to favour since he took over as manager.
Warnock would not reveal names of players he was after, but said this week: “Shaun Harvey’s working his socks off. He’s talking to everybody and trying to tie them up. I know he’s working hard to bring at least one of the loan lads in permanent. We are optimistic of at least one signing before the cup tie.
“We’ve got Alan Tate tied up to the end of January, which gives us both a bit of breathing space.”
Warnock, meanwhile, is expected to make changes to his starting line-up for tomorrow’s tie with Birmingham to give players valuable game time. He will not want to weaken the team too much with his eyes on another cup run, but the game gives him a chance to give fringe players a run out while Rodolph Austin, Ross McCormack and Davide Somma can expect to play a part as they look to get back to full match sharpness after their return from injury.
Opponents Birmingham are fifth from bottom in the Championship after struggling for consistency since Lee Clark took over as manager, but they already have a win at Elland Road under their belts this season and are looking for a hat-trick of successes at the ground after thrashing Leeds last term.