LEEDS UNITED have granted Pontus Jansson, Eunan O’Kane and Chris Wood permission to return late to pre-season training but doubt surrounds the future of Charlie Taylor with his Elland Road contract set to expire.
Jansson and O’Kane are taking additional time off after their respective weddings this week, having been involved in international duty earlier in the summer, and Wood will also receive a longer period of leave with New Zealand still involved in the Confederations Cup in Russia.
New Zealand were eliminated from the competition after a 2-1 defeat to Mexico on Wednesday, a tie in which Wood scored the opening goal, but the All Whites have one group game to complete in St Petersburg on Saturday.
The rest of United’s players are scheduled to be back at Thorp Arch for initial testing tomorrow ahead of the start of fitness training on Monday morning. Leeds and new head coach Thomas Christiansen stand little over six weeks away from the start of the new Championship term, which kicks off with a televised game away at newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers on Sunday, August 6.
Centre-back Jansson, who will seal a permanent transfer from Torino on July 1, midfielder O’Kane and striker Wood are all expected to report in at Thorp Arch before the club fly out for a planned tour of Austria next month.
Left-back Taylor, however, remains in limbo with his contract a week away from running out.
Taylor received the offer of a new two-year deal from Leeds last month but was expected to turn it down with a view to signing for a Premier League club. Leeds, however, are entitled to compensation due to Taylor being under the age of 24 and extended talks with West Bromwich Albion have so far failed to lead to an agreement over a fee.
West Brom were anxious to avoid Taylor’s valuation being set by tribunal but Leeds are confident of earning in excess of £5m for him if a decision on his fee goes before a compensation panel. Burnley have also expressed a strong interest in Taylor but are wary of paying over the odds for the defender.
Taylor will remain on United’s books and continue to be paid by the club until a transfer elsewhere is finalised but the left-back looks unlikely to return to Thorp Arch for pre-season in the meantime.
He was heavily criticised after refusing to play in the final game of last season, a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic, in an apparent effort to guard against injury going into the transfer window.
Taylor will remain on United’s books and continue to be paid by the club until a transfer elsewhere is finalisedPhil Hay
United, meanwhile, are continuing to work towards their first new signing amid links to numerous players on the continent.
The club have a strong interest in FC Twente midfielder Mateusz Klich, a Poland international, and reports in Spain say Leeds are one of several clubs tracking Samuel Saiz, an attacking midfielder at Spanish second division side SD Huesca.
Saiz is expected to leave Huesca after scoring 12 goals last season and his deal is believed to include a three million Euro release clause. Eibar, Real Betis and Alaves are all hopeful of recruiting him.
Elsewhere, the agency representing Macedonian winger Ezgjan Alioski said it had “received many inquiries” about the Lugano player amid claims that United intend to bring him to England.
Alioski struck 16 times in the Swiss top flight last term and a spokesman for Fair Play Agency told the YEP: “It is understandable that Ezgjan Alioski is a sought-after player all over Europe.
“We have received many inquiries regarding the player and will analyse them all in due time.”
** Sean Rush, Leeds’ head of physical performance, has joined the exodus from Elland Road and is taking up a post in Garry Monk’s backroom team at Middlesbrough.
United confirmed on Monday that Monk’s coaching staff last season – Pep Clotet, James Beattie and Darryl Flahavan – were all moving on following the appointment of Thomas Christiansen as their new head coach.
Beattie and Flahavan have followed Monk to The Riverside as first-team coach and goalkeeping coach respectively and Rush will head up Boro’s fitness plan after being replaced at Leeds by Ivan Torres.