Leeds United: New skipper’s future is on backburner for now

Robert Snodgrass.

Robert Snodgrass.

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Neil Warnock says talk about the future of Robert Snodgrass will be put to one side while Leeds United concentrate on closing out their season.

Warnock plans to address the threat of Snodgrass making a summer departure from Elland Road “nearer the time” after naming the Scotland international as captain last weekend.

United’s new manager gave the wide man a huge vote of confidence by handing him the armband ahead of a goalless draw at Portsmouth, Warnock’s first official game in charge.

The 24-year-old will lead the club through the rest of the season but his future has long been the subject of speculation with his contract less than 18 months from expiring and expectation of close-season offers from Premier League sides growing.

Former manager Simon Grayson moved in January to deny claims that Snodgrass had withdrawn from negotiations over a new deal, but talks about an extension to his existing contract have not taken place since last summer when Norwich City attempted to sign him with a bid of around £3m.

Skipper

Warnock’s selection of Snodgrass as club captain is a clear indication the winger is central to the 63-year-old’s future plans at Elland Road, but the retention of Snodgrass could be dependent on Leeds securing promotion this season.

Asked if he would want the Scot to remain with Leeds beyond the summer, Warnock said: “Definitely. You always want to keep your best players.

“But that’s something to talk about nearer the time.”

Leeds tied Snodgrass to a four-year deal in 2009, extending his contract little more than 12 months after signing him from Livingston, but his current position will make United vulnerable to outside offers during the summer transfer window.

Both Jonathan Howson and Max Gradel have been sold by Leeds in the past year having run into the latter stages of their deals at Elland Road.

Snodgrass is rapidly approaching his 200th appearance for United and he has played a crucial role in keeping Leeds in touch with the play-off zone this season, scoring 11 league goals and creating 11 more.

Speaking before his sacking, Grayson said: “We turned down a bid from Norwich and both parties agreed then that we would leave it (contract negotiations) until it suits us both.

“There’ve been no negotiations for four to five months and that was agreed in the summer. He still has 18 months on his contract so we’re in a good position.”

Snodgrass looked for the captaincy when Howson left to join Norwich City in January but Grayson opted to give the armband to goalkeeper and ex-Preston North End captain Andy Lonergan.

Snodgrass admitted that becoming captain had been one of his aims upon joining the club in 2008 and Warnock, who named midfield enigma Adel Taarabt as his skipper to great effect at Queens Park Rangers, said the Scot fitted the criteria perfectly.

Warnock said: “I looked at the situation at QPR where I had Adel as my captain.

“Rob’s not that sort of a player as such but he’s an important part of the team, and Adel was too.

“He’s very proud to be wearing the armband and that’s what I want.

“It’s no disrespect to Andy Lonergan because he’s a good lad but you’ve got to have someone outfield who the lads respect, the fans respect and the manager respects. Rob was the logical person.”

Snodgrass made a half-hour appearance for Scotland in midweek, replacing Brighton’s Craig Mackail-Smith during a 1-1 draw with Slovenia.

Meanwhile, the Football Association is still to confirm whether Leeds and Doncaster Rovers will face disciplinary charges over their tunnel brawl at Elland Road a fortnight ago.

The incident at the end of Leeds’ 3-2 win on February 18 is expected to lead to sanctions from the governing body, but an FA spokesman said there was no update and no timescale on a decision.

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