Simon Grayson: Leeds United squad is set for a January makeover

EADY TO DEAL: United will look to offload Andy O'Brien after the defender's refusal to play for the club.
EADY TO DEAL: United will look to offload Andy O'Brien after the defender's refusal to play for the club.
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Simon Grayson expects incoming and out-going transfers at Leeds United next month after holding discussions with chairman Ken Bates over their strategy for the January window.

Grayson hopes to strengthen a side who sit inside the Championship’s play-off zone with the halfway stage of the season approaching, but departures from Elland Road are also likely as Leeds attempt to keep their wage bill in check.

Bates said earlier this week that the cost of salaries at Elland Road was “very, very high” and described the United’s squad as “very large by Premiership standards.”

Leeds will look to shed a number of their fringe players when the winter window opens but Grayson revealed that plans were in place to improve his team and make the most of another opportunity to claim promotion to the Premier League.

One signing is already lined up with Danny Pugh poised to join United on a permanent basis when his loan from Stoke City expires at the end of this month, and Leeds will speak to Wolverhampton Wanderers about the possibility of retaining on-loan striker Andy Keogh.

Targets

Other deals are also anticipated, with Grayson aiming to avoid a repeat of the summer transfer window in which numerous targets slipped through his fingers.

The United manager said: “Based on the last one, I’d have to say I’m not too keen on transfer windows.

“The last window was very frustrating and it’s never easy to get your targets because everyone’s after good players. A lot of managers are after the same players.

“You have to do your business as quietly as possible and try not to alert other people but that’s difficult.

“We’re looking at targets for different positions. I’m not going to say what positions or who we’re looking at but we are looking to strengthen the squad in January. We’ve been analysing players over weeks and months, probably since pre-season, looking at who’s available and who’s out on loan.

“I had a meeting with the chairman this week and we’ve got a few targets in mind.

“Hopefully we can get what we need to improve the team and the squad. But it’s not a secret that we’ll need to let a few players go, to allow them to get first-team football. Obviously that would free up more money to allow us to bring other people in.”

Defender Alex Bruce is one senior player likely to leave United permanently having joined Huddersfield Town on loan last month with a view to a long-term deal.

Goalkeeper Paul Rachubka is in the middle of a month-long stay at Tranmere Rovers and has little prospect of rebuilding his career at Leeds after his woeful performance in a 5-0 defeat to Blackpool. United will also have the chance to offload centre-back Andy O’Brien who will not play for the club again after his recent fall-out with Grayson.

The list of players linked with moves to Elland Road has already grown in length, with Grayson’s targets rumoured to include former Birmingham City defender Stuart Parnaby and Blackburn Rovers’ Keith Andrews. Andrews is currently on loan at Ipswich Town.

Grayson admitted that a central midfielder could be on his list of requirements in the wake of Jonathan Howson’s knee injury, saying: “It’s a possibility. But we’ve got Michael Brown and Mika Vayrynen coming back (from injury), and Adam Clayton too.

“That’s three and Danny Pugh played well there against Millwall so we’ve got options.”

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