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Leeds United keen on O'Brien deal - Bates

Leeds United have secured the short-term future of Bolton Wanderers defender Andy O'Brien – and the club will push for a longer deal when the transfer window opens in January.

United erased concern about the possibility of O'Brien returning to the Reebok Stadium after this weekend's game at Reading by negotiating to keep the influential centre-back at Elland Road until the turn of the year.

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O'Brien's initial month's loan was due to end on Saturday but Leeds were anxious to retain an experience player who has contributed significantly to their impressive league form during his four-week spell in West Yorkshire.

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An extension with Bolton until January was set to be signed today.

The 31-year-old came to Leeds on October 29 with the club toiling at the end of a run of four defeats from five Championship games, but his arrival coincided with the start of a five-match unbeaten run and

United manager Simon Grayson last week confirmed his intention to retain a key member of his improving defence.

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Bolton boss Owen Coyle previously implied that he would recall O'Brien after his first month with Leeds but the former Bradford City player had little involvement in Wanderers' Premier League season prior to joining United, and he is likely to leave Bolton permanently in the near future with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Leeds have guaranteed his services until after their visit to Cardiff City on January 4 but chairman Ken Bates said the club were likely to approach Bolton again in the new year with a view to keeping O'Brien at Elland Road for the second half of the Championship term.

Bates said: "I'm very happy to say that we've got an agreement with Bolton to extend his loan until January. Then we'll hopefully talk to Bolton again to see if we can keep him for longer.

"He's been a great figure in the defence and he hasn't been on a losing side. He and Leeds are going the same way."

O'Brien's appearance at Norwich City last Saturday was his fifth for Leeds, and the club have collected 11 points during his recent loan, rising to fifth position in the Championship in the process.

Grayson made no secret of his desire to keep O'Brien and left-back George McCartney, whose loan from Sunderland is reaching the end of its second month. Leeds are likely to follow up their bid to extend O'Brien's deal by attempting to retain McCartney until after the Christmas schedule.

Speaking last week, Grayson said: "If we can keep a settled back four then it'll play some part in getting consistency and confidence together. We want to keep good players and those two are good players."

Bates, meanwhile, has hinted that midfielder Bradley Johnson could still have a future at Elland Road if he reverses his decision to turn down a final contract offer from the club.

Johnson was placed on the transfer list by Leeds last week after failing to agree an extension to his existing deal, which runs until June.

The club do not intend to improve their proposal but asked whether Johnson could have a change of heart, Bates, above, said: "It's up to him. We've made clear our position. He rejected his final offer which was then withdrawn.

"He thinks he's worth more than we do and he has to prove to another club that he's worth the rather high valuation he's made of himself."

Johnson has been linked with both Bolton and Stoke City since turning down Leeds' offer.

 
 
 

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