THE FUTURE OF Stephen Warnock at Leeds United has been cast into renewed doubt amid reports he has contacted the Professional Footballers’ Association regarding concerns about his treatment at the club.
The 32-year-old has surprisingly found himself demoted to the bench for United’s last two matches, despite arguably being the club’s stand-out player alongside keeper Marco Silvestri in the opening quarter of the 2014-15 campaign.
The full-back, signed for Leeds from Aston Villa in January 2013 on a two-and-a-half year deal, was an unused substitute in the Championship games against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday, and is thought to have strong concerns about the way he has been treated at Leeds for several months.
This has prompted his decision to get in touch with the PFA, who are reportedly mediating with the player, his representatives and the club.
Back in the summer, Warnock, among the highest earners at Leeds with his contract not expiring until June 2015, was told he was free to leave if he could find another club, with owner Massimo Cellino keen to get him off the wage bill.
But no move has yet transpired for the one-time England international, who started the season in the team and was an ever-present in the Championship prior to being dropped for last Wednesday’s game with Reading at Elland Road – after his appearance in the 2-0 defeat at Brentford on September 27.
It is claimed that Cellino allegedly tried to instigate Warnock’s substitution during in the 4-1 loss at Watford on August 23, but his phone call to the dug-out was ignored by former head coach David Hockaday.
The following Saturday, Warnock scored the only goal of the game in the 1-0 home victory over Bolton Wanderers and his celebration routine alluded to the above issue as he pretended to hold a phone to his ear before rolling his arms to signify a substitution.
That is believed to have further angered Cellino, who is also believed to have been highly critical of Warnock’s performance at Brentford.
Last Friday, new head coach Darko Milanic attempted to fend off questions on the influence of Cellino on first-team selection matters by stating he had full control over team affairs.
Milanic stressed that tactics and formations were “my decision” and claimed discussions with Cellino about United’s squad were “not in detail” after the surprise inclusion of central defender Liam Cooper at Warnock’s expense at left-back in the goalless draw with Reading.
Meanwhile, former United manager Brian McDermott has joined the coaching set-up at Arsenal, where he started his professional career.
McDermott has been out of football since leaving Leeds by mutual consent at the end of May.*