Leeds United were seeking another good deed from Aston Villa today after manager Simon Grayson confirmed his plan to secure an extension to Eric Lichaj’s loan.
The 22-year-old defender is due to return to Villa Park after tomorrow’s game against Ipswich – the end of a month-long stay at Elland Road – but Grayson is bidding to retain him as competition for Paul Connolly.
Leeds have been without Connolly since their first-choice right-back pulled a hamstring against Coventry City on February 5, and he is unlikely to start tomorrow’s Championship fixture despite appearing for United’s reserves earlier this week.
Lichaj has deputised in his absence, making six consecutive starts for Leeds, and an extension to his deal at Elland Road would tie up cover for Connolly until the latter stages of the season.
Lichaj was signed by Leeds on an emergency loan, however, and the 93-day limit set by the Football League for emergency deals will see any fresh agreement run out before the conclusion of the Championship play-offs.
But Grayson said: “We need the same competition for places that we’ve got in the rest of the squad and we’d like to sign Eric again.
“He’s not our player and it’ll be down to Aston Villa to decide but he’s done well and it’s an option for us to consider. He’s proved that he can play at this level. We’ll try to take him for as long as possible but Villa might want to take him back. Hopefully that isn’t the case and I’ll be asking the question.”
Villa have already sanctioned one transfer to Leeds this week after allowing midfielder Barry Bannan to move to Elland Road on loan until the end of the season.
Connolly, meanwhile, appears to have overcome the worst of his hamstring strain and trained as scheduled this week, but the former Derby County captain will tread a fine line on his return having edged to within one yellow card of an automatic two-match ban.
Grayson said: “Paul had 60 minutes in the reserves and he’s trained all week so he isn’t too far away. But he probably needs another game before he’s back in full contention.”