Leeds United: Whites home in on Manchester City ace

Michael Johnson.
Michael Johnson.
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Michael Johnson was in Leeds United’s sights today as the Championship club pushed to fill the void created by Bradley Johnson’s suspension.

The Manchester City midfielder came under the watch of United manager Simon Grayson last night during City’s reserve game against Bolton Wanderers, and he is understood to have been made available for a short-term loan by his parent club.

Leeds are in the market for a new midfielder following Bradley Johnson’s dismissal against Barnsley on Tuesday evening, a red card which will see him serve a one-match ban when United travel to Swansea City on Saturday.

Grayson has made no secret of his interest in Michael Johnson, a player who was previously assessed by members of Leeds’ scouting team earlier this month, and a series of reserve appearances appear to have alleviated doubt over the 22-year-old’s fitness.

Johnson is still working his way back from a serious knee injury sustained in 2009.

But City appear increasingly convinced by his physical condition and included him in their travelling party for last week’s Europa League tie against Aris Salonika.

Grayson confirmed after Tuesday’s 3-3 draw with Barnsley that a new recruit was likely to arrive ahead of Leeds’ crucial game in Swansea, and a number of other options have also being considered in response to Bradley Johnson’s ban.

United have been conscious of timing key loan signings to ensure that the 93-day limit set by the Football League for emergency deals runs up to and beyond the Championship play-off final on May 30.

“I’ve got a list and I’ve met with the chairman (Ken Bates) to discuss it,” Grayson said.

“I can get players in if I want to and I’ve spoken to people about it. It’s just a case of finding the right time to do it and this might be the right time now.”

Manchester City assistant and former Leeds coach Brian Kidd recently gave Michael Johnson a glowing reference, saying: “The last two weeks, Michael’s come on in leaps and bounds. He’s done really well.

“He’s looking really good in training now.

“He’s getting his feet again and his aerobic base is there.

“What he’s looking for is quickness and he’ll get that from playing games.”

Grayson, meanwhile, has defended Bradley Johnson over his dismissal on Tuesday night.

The 23-year-old was booked twice by referee Mark Clattenburg for fouls on Jacob Mellis either side of half-time, but Grayson said: “Bradley hardly touched him. They were soft decisions.”

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