Leeds United boss Brian McDermott is backing striker Noel Hunt - still awaiting his first goal for the Whites after signing in the summer.
The former Reading forward has, by his own admission, endured a slow start to his Elland Road career, with the 30-year-old substituted after 57 minutes of a below-par performance in United’s last Championship clash against QPR.
McDermott admits Hunt was the first to acknowledge his display against the R’s was disappointing and didn’t have to be told so.
To his credit, the Irishman has also not shied away from criticism from some supporters on Twitter and has taken things squarely on the chin, tweeting last week: ‘I’m an honest lad who always tried to play with my heart on my sleeve!! And Pride in the shirt! And lets be honest I can only get better!”
McDermott said: “Noel is an honest guy. He is probably down on himself too much (at times).
“But I have seen what Noel has given teams I have had in the past, which is an awful lot, on and off the pitch.
“He wants to do really well for Leeds. He knows himself – especially in the last game he played against QPR – that he didn’t do himself any justice. I didn’t need to tell him that, he knows that himself. I thought against Ipswich in the game before, he was very, very good with him and (Luke) Varney up front doing really well away from home.
“No-one needs to tell Noel, he knows himself.”
The emergency loan window opens for Football League clubs today and while it’s an avenue that McDermott is willing to explore, nothing is imminent, as it stands.
United – one of several Championship sides reportedly linked with Southampton forward Billy Sharp at the weekend – were handed a significant boost yesterday with the news that Sam Byram completed ninety minutes for the first time this season in the development squad’s 2-1 loss to Sunderland at Thorp Arch.
McDermott remains reluctant to put a timescale on when United’s reigning Player of the Year will be back in the first-team fray, but admits the sight of
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Byram getting a full game under his belt is wholly encouraging - and could potentially bolster his options in the weeks ahead.
He said: “If something came up on loan that was right for us, we would do it if we can do that financially -there’s no doubt about it.
“(But) I’ve said in the past, I don’t like doing loan deals for the sake of it and that’s probably still my philosophy.
“Having said that, I’ll do it if it’s right. But it’s better for me if you can do a deal whereby you have someone on a longer term.
“We have our group we are working with. Sam Byram has played ninety minutes - imagine trying to sign Sam Byram for Leeds, that would cost a lot of money. Hopefully we’re getting him back.
“He’s getting there, which is really important. I don’t want to put any pressure on Sam and we’ll make sure he is right. Once he’s right, we shall see.”
Another ‘in-house’ option for McDermott remains Aidy White, who played in a strong starting line-up against the Black Cats, which also featured El-Hadji Diouf and Matt Smith.
White was recently linked with a loan move to Barnsley and is understood to have rejected a loan move to Oakwell despite making one senior appearance for his hometown club this season.
Insisting White still has a future at Elland Road, McDermott said: “He’s been a Leeds player since the age of nine and he wants to play for Leeds United. You want to him and the players that are here to have every chance.
“These guys want to play for Leeds United and so many of them love this club.”
Paul Green starts for Ireland in their World Cup qualifier in Austria tonight, with Ross McCormack - a late sub for Scotland in Friday’s loss to Belgium - hoping for action in the Tartan Army’s game in Macedonia.
United skipper Rudy Austin misses Jamaica’s clash with Costa Rica in Kingston after picking up two yellow cards in the weekend draw with Panama.