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Leeds United: Whites want Tonge

Michael Tonge celebrates his goal against Southampton.

Michael Tonge celebrates his goal against Southampton.

  • by Phil Hay
 

Leeds United will look to retain Michael Tonge when his loan from Stoke City expires next month, assistant manager Mick Jones has revealed.

Leeds are planning to approach Stoke to discuss a deal which keeps Tonge at Elland Road for the rest of the Championship season. The clubs’ existing agreement is due to run out after United’s match at home to Middlesbrough on December 22.

The midfielder moved to Elland Road on a three-month emergency loan in September and has not missed a first-team match in his time with Leeds, despite suffering a shoulder injury in their win over Barnsley on October 6.

The former Sheffield United trainee has been part of the squad at Stoke for more than four years but has made no serious impact at the Britannia Stadium and he is expected to leave the club when his contract runs out at the end of this season.

Tonge has become an established part of Neil Warnock’s line-up since coming to Leeds on loan and Jones said: “We’d like to extend it. He’s a good player who’s done well.

“It will rest on a few things – what Stoke want to do, because he’s their player, and finances come into it because everybody knows that at this moment in time we’re not loaded with money. It takes money to get good players.

“But Michael is enjoying his football in the Championship. The fans love him, he’s a match-winner and we want to keep him. But the bottom line is that he doesn’t belong to us, he belongs to Stoke City.”

Tonge has already conceded that his career with Stoke is virtually over, saying: “I’m in my last year at Stoke so I’m going to be moving on at some point.

“I’d love to get something permanent sorted. Whether it’s here (at Leeds), I’d need to play well enough to prove I’m worth that.”

Football League rules allow emergency loans up to a maximum of 93 days, meaning Tonge’s deal – finalised on September 13 – will run out a week before the start of the January transfer window.

The 29-year-old appears to be open to the option of a longer-term move to Elland Road but doubt is surrounding the future of El-Hadji Diouf after the forward turned down an offer to extend his contract.

Diouf’s current deal ends at the start of January and an initial proposal put to him by Leeds was rejected last week.

Warnock refused to discuss Diouf’s situation after Friday’s 2-2 draw at Brighton, saying it was “not the time to ask me about that.”

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