Steve Evans defended Leeds United’s decision to give up on the signing of striker Kyle Lafferty in January as he prepared to meet the Northern Ireland international at St Andrews.
Lafferty – a transfer target who Evans pursued without success before and during the January transfer window – is set to lead the line for Birmingham City tonight after moving to St Andrews on loan from Norwich City last month.
Evans tried and failed to bring Lafferty to Elland Road during the emergency loan window in the first half of this season and also approached Norwich about a deal when FIFA’s winter window opened in January.
Leeds refused to consider a permanent transfer and were unable to finalise a temporary arrangement for a player who is understood to earn in excess of £30,000 a week.
Birmingham found a way to finance a move before the end of the recent loan window and Lafferty scored on his Birmingham debut, finding the net in a 2-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Evans, however denied that his arrival at St Andrews was an indication that City had more spending power than Leeds.
United have rarely been in close contention for a Championship play-off place this season. Birmingham, meanwhile, need a victory tonight to keep alive their chances of a top-six finish.
Evans and Leeds owner Massimo Cellino came in for criticism at the end of the January window after failing to add a striker to a squad who are failing to average a goal a game but Evans said: “On deadline day it (a deal for Lafferty) was as close as you could be.
“We just didn’t get it over the line.
“Birmingham got it done and I’m sure our supporters will ask why that is but that fact is that they thought they had a serious chance of the play-offs.
“If they had just been playing through to the end of the season, they wouldn’t have done a deal so rich either.
“I wanted to sign Kyle, everyone knows that, but from a club point of view it was the right thing not to do that deal.”