Bolton Wanderers have confirmed that Leeds United have enquired about the availability of Matt Mills.
Manager Dougie Freedman revealed an approach from Leeds over a deal to take the defender to Elland Road – and said he would leave any decision on Mills’ future in the 27-year-old’s hands.
But Freedman also suggested that Mills might opt to stay at the Reebok Stadium and fight for his place despite the possibility of a reunion with Brian McDermott.
Leeds boss McDermott managed Mills at Reading and handed him the captain’s armband in the season leading up to the club’s Championship play-off final defeat to Swansea City in 2011.
Reading sold Mills to Leicester City for £5million in the aftermath of that loss, sacrificing one of the most highly-rated centre-backs in the Championship, but his career has meandered since then and a short-lived spell with Leicester ended with a move to Bolton last summer.
Mills’ time in Lancashire has been equally mixed – he made just 18 appearances last season – and Wanderers were believed to be keen to remove his salary of around £25,000 a week from their wage bill, with sources in Bolton claiming United are willing to pay half of that.
United, meanwhile, are in need of a new centre-back, a requirement underlined by McDermott taking the opportunity to assess Lee Peltier in that position during Tuesday’s defeat to Ferencvaros in Slovenia.
Former Leeds loanee Freedman said: “We had an enquiry from Leeds United, a phone call from their chief executive to enquire what his situation was.
“He’s a very capable defender who I would like to keep but like everybody, if the right offer comes in and he tells me he wants to go then he can go.
“I only want people at this football club who show the right attitude to being here.
“Matt has shown the right attitude and he’s someone I’d like to work with.”
Despite the enquiry about Mills, McDermott is thought to have other possibilities in mind and he was linked this week with Brighton’s Gordon Greer.
McDermott has spent the past fortnight pushing to bring his fourth summer signing to Elland Road. Leeds have only two senior centre-backs available at present – Tom Lees and Jason Pearce – but McDermott admitted on Tuesday that Peltier’s performance in that position had given him another alternative.
“He was excellent, he played really well,” McDermott said. “He can play that position for us, definitely.”
Meanwhile, McDermott will change tack at Walsall on Saturday and give the first indication of how United plan to tackle Brighton on the opening day of the season. McDermott is ready break away from the fitness-focused strategy of United’s first four friendlies and give the majority of the players who start against Walsall a run-out to the final whistle.
The Leeds manager fielded most of his squad for 45-minute in their matches against Farsley and Pomurje and rotated his team again in defeats to Domzale and Ferencvaros, with many who played an hour in the first game completing just 30 minutes in the second.
But McDermott could give a pointer towards his preferred starting XI, saying: “It won’t be 60-30 this time.
“I’ll pick a team and make a few substitutions at certain points but it won’t be the same structure as it has been in the last couple of games.”
United players were resuming training at Thorp Arch this morning having flown back from their tour of Slovenia on Wednesday.
Sam Byram, El-Hadji Diouf and Jamie Ashdown are likely to miss tomorrow’s match and United are monitoring the groin strain which forced Noel Hunt to sit out of Tuesday’s defeat.