LEEDS United have lined up the signing of goalkeeper Jack Butland on loan from Stoke City as an ankle injury threatens to break Paddy Kenny’s ever-present record.
Butland is due to join Leeds on loan today, in time to make his debut against Middlesbrough at The Riverside tomorrow lunchtime. The deal comes with Kenny troubled once more by an injury he suffered at the end of December.
United’s long-standing first choice was hurt in the first minute of a 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on December 29 but played on through January and the early weeks of this month with Jamie Ashdown recovering from toe surgery and 21-year-old Alex Cairns on the bench.
Leeds hinted at a problem with Kenny earlier this week when they made an approach to Stoke for Butland and asked Tottenham Hotspur about the availability of Heurelho Gomes, Spurs’ out-of-favour Brazilian international.
A deal over Butland’s £17,000-a-week salary was agreed between Leeds and Stoke yesterday, giving manager Brian McDermott the option of removing Kenny from his line-up for the first time this season.
“Obviously (Butland) has high ambitions,” McDermott said.
“He’s already been involved in the England squad and I know he’s very much looking forward to coming in and being part of the group we have here.
“Paddy’s been playing with an ankle injury since Nottingham Forest.
“He’s come through those games but he has been playing with a problem.
“There’s a possibility he won’t be playing tomorrow.”
Butland, a full England international, is trapped behind a number of more experienced ’keepers at the Britannia Stadium and was allowed to join Barnsley on loan during the first half of the season.
He was man-of-the-match during a 0-0 draw between United and Barnsley in December but returned to the Britannia Stadium the following week.
Barnsley have opted not to pursue a fresh deal with a large number of loanees already in their squad.
The South Yorkshire club paid just £5,000 of his weekly salary with Stoke keen to ensure that the 20-year-old was not left to endure an inactive spell.
City are willing to allow him to move to Elland Road on a full 93-day emergency loan until the end of the season.
The Potters’ boss Mark Hughes said: “That’s the motivation for us – to look to place him somewhere.
“He’s had a good year and been out on loan already.”
Leeds have a further injury concern with right-back Sam Byram carrying a hamstring strain.
The right-back – plagued by injury problems throughout the Championship term – missed training yesterday and could be forced to make way for Lee Peltier at The Riverside.
But Cameron Stewart is available again and likely to start after Leeds renewed his loan from Hull City in time for this weekend’s match.
United suspended the winger’s 93-day deal – agreed midway through January – ahead of their 1-0 defeat to Brighton to ensure that his loan would run until the penultimate weekend of the Championship season.