Neil Warnock is likely to step up his clear-out at Leeds United next week after beginning the exodus from Elland Road.
Warnock has launched the rebuilding of United’s squad by releasing Ben Parker, Mika Vayrynen and Darren O’Dea, and further announcements are imminent with the club’s Championship season in its final throes.
Left-back Parker and midfielder Vayrynen parted company with Leeds on Monday with their contracts due to expire this summer, and O’Dea became the most high-profile victim of Warnock’s reshuffle to date when the United manager announced that he would not be offering the on-loan centre-back a permanent deal.
The departures of Parker and Vayrynen – players who made little or no impact at Elland Road in the past nine months – were not unexpected, but O’Dea’s failure to secure a free transfer to Leeds from Celtic is a clearer indication of the sweeping changes planned by Warnock before the 2012-13 season.
“One or two other players have come into the reckoning,” Warnock said. “I’m excited about them and I hope I can get them in the next couple of months.”
O’Dea made 35 league starts and became a fixture under Warnock after the 63-year-old’s appointment as manager in February, but recent suspensions hastened his exit two games before the end of his season-long loan from Celtic.
Warnock is eyeing a number of other centre-backs, saying he intends to “go in a different direction next season”, and his plan for alterations across United’s line-up should gather speed in the days leading up to Leeds’ last fixture against Leicester City.
Seven other players are either out of contract this summer or nearing the end of loan deals, and Warnock is also looking to remove a number of under-contract professionals from the wage bill.
The likes of goalkeeper Paul Rachubka – on loan at Leyton Orient – appear to have no future at Elland Road.
Leeds chairman Ken Bates, meanwhile, paid a warm tribute to Parker, whose career has been badly affected by injury, but he was scathing about the decision to sign Vayrynen on a free transfer last September.
Vayrynen, a former PSV Eindhoven midfielder, accepted a one-year contract after the closure of the summer transfer window having been without a club since leaving Heerenveen at the end of the previous season.
The Finland international made two league starts and 11 appearances for Leeds but saw his campaign ended early by a groin operation.
Bates said: “I don’t know why we signed him. Nice guy but a complete waste of money.
“He made two starts and cost us half-a-million quid in fees and salary. I just don’t know why he was signed.
“I’m sorry for him but even more sorry for us. It’s better that he goes and seeks the rest of his career somewhere else.”
Vayrynen responded to Bates on Twitter, saying: “Obviously money can’t buy class! Comments from an old man who don’t even no (sic) my name. I wanted to play but wasn’t used. My bad!”