Neil Redfearn urged Leeds United to commit to extending Rodolph Austin’s deal this summer as the midfielder prepared for what could be the last three games of his Elland Road career.
Austin is available after suspension for tomorrow’s trip to Charlton Athletic but he, like Redfearn, is facing an uncertain future with his contract set to expire in June.
The Jamaican international is in the final stages of the three-year deal he accepted when Leeds signed him from SK Brann in 2012 and United have not made any attempt to renew those terms.
Austin was linked with a move away from Elland Road in January but Leeds resisted interest from Brighton and Millwall and rejected an offer of around £500,000 from Wigan Athletic.
The 29-year-old has featured heavily in Redfearn’s line-up since the turn of the year, though his involvement was curtailed this month by a red card for violent conduct against Blackburn Rovers.
Leeds lost that match with 10 men and have suffered three straight defeats during Austin’s ban, a spell of form which Redfearn said had underlined the 29-year-old’s influence.
Austin completed a three-game suspension during Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Norwich City.
Asked if he would choose to tie Austin to a new contract at the end of the season, Redfearn, whose deal as head coach is also up in the summer, said: “Yes I would.
“I rate Rudy. The best way to describe him, or his biggest asset, is that he’s infectious. He’s one of these people who raises the tempo of everything. He’s got a real competitive edge, he’s got ability and I think he’s got more ability in him than he realises. There’s goals in him too and if I had long enough to work with him I think I’d make him a better player.”
Austin has been a mainstay in Leeds’ side ever since his £300,000 move from Brann, playing 109 times, but his experience at Elland Road has been mixed.
Former Leeds manager Brian McDermott named him captain at the start of last season but Austin gave up the armband midway through the term, telling McDermott he no longer wanted the responsibility.
He will leave Elland Road on a free transfer if Leeds opt not to extend his deal or Austin turns down an offer from the club but Redfearn talked up his contribution, saying: “He epitomises this level. Most teams you come up against (in the Championship) have something similar, an aggressive, competitive edge who can get up and down the pitch and compete.
“I don’t think it’s a big surprise that a lot of Championship clubs wanted him, exactly for that reason.”
Austin was shown a straight red card against Blackburn after raising a forearm to winger Ben Marshall shortly before half-time in the 3-0 defeat.
Leeds decided not to appeal the dismissal, despite Redfearn describing it as “harsh”, but the United boss said: “I understood where the club were coming from. The procedure is that if you appeal and lose, he gets an extra game. If they (the Football Association) watch it back and stick together, you’re not going to win the appeal. Rather than get an extra game tagged on, we had to take it on the chin – even though it was an injustice losing him for three games.”