Leeds United: Horton heads back to USA

Charlie Horton.

Charlie Horton.

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Leeds United’s goalkeeping shortage has intensified after the club took the compassionate decision to allow Charlie Horton to end his stay at Elland Road and return to the USA to deal with personal issues.

United announced yesterday that they had granted a sudden request from Horton to terminate the two-year contract he signed in June, allowing the 21-year-old to address what he called a “private family matter back home.”

Horton, who is understood to have suffered the death of a close relative, said in a statement that he was moving back to America to “fulfil my responsibilities as the only man in my family.”

“For me there is only one thing which comes before this football club – my family,” the keeper said. “That’s the sole reason I’m going home.

“I ask people to respect my privacy while I handle it, as it is not a short-term matter.”

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Leeds agreed to release the USA Under-23 international following talks between club owner Massimo Cellino and head coach Steve Evans.

The YEP understands that in a gesture of support, United have offered to pay up the remainder of the first year of Horton’s contract.

Horton was signed by Leeds from Cardiff City during the summer transfer window, a move which saw him follow current United goalkeeping coach Richard Hartis to the club.

The youngster joined with the intention of playing for Leeds’ development squad this season but a broken ankle suffered by Ross Turnbull last month has seen Horton act as cover from Marco Silvestri. He sat on the bench during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Rotherham United at Elland Road.

Leeds have been without an experienced alternative to Silvestri since 30-year-old Turnbull was injured in a training game at Thorp Arch and Turnbull is unlikely to be fit until after the turn of the year. Evans is continuing to look for options in the loan market with Thursday’s deadline approaching rapidly but Horton’s sudden exit could see 19-year-old Bailey Peacock-Farrell named in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Queens Park Rangers.

Eric Grimes, a Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, is also in contention but Evans appears to be favouring Peacock-Farrell having used the teenager towards the end of a friendly at Wycombe Wanderers last week.

Peacock-Farrell started yesterday’s Under-21s game at Nottingham Forest with Grimes on the bench. The match ended in a 2-0 defeat.

Horton, meanwhile, said he would look to continue his playing career in Major League Soccer following the end of his short stay with Leeds.

His request to sever his deal at Elland Road was made after his return from a recent spell of international duty with the USA’s Under-23s.

“The club, owner and coaching staff - especially the gaffer - stressed that I had an extremely bright future with the club and were disappointed to see me go,” Horton said.

“However, they understood the circumstances and are letting me return home with he understanding that I will pursue a career in MLS, much closer to where I am needed.

“To have had the opportunity to represent one of the most pretigious and historical clubs in Europe has been a true honour.”

Leeds United head coach, Thomas Christiansen at Elland Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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