Leeds United: Bridcutt is still at top of Evans' '˜wanted list'
Steve Evans said a permanent deal to sign Liam Bridcutt was still on his mind after the midfielder's performance led the way in a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
A dominant display from Bridcutt in an impressive showing from Leeds United at Ewood Park helped the club record a third successive league victory for the first time in over a year.
Goals from Sol Bamba and Mirco Antenucci in either half earned a deserved result but Bridcutt’s influence stood out as Evans’ midfield comfortably won the contest with Paul Lambert’s Blackburn.
Evans described the on-loan Sunderland player – called up by Scotland coach Gordon Strachan last week – as “sensational” and left no doubt about his continuing interest in striking a permanent deal for Bridcutt.
The former Brighton midfielder, who is on loan at Elland Road until the end of the Championship season, is surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light but still under contract for the 2016-17 term.
Asked how likely Leeds were to seek a long-term agreement with him, Evans said: “I think Liam’s very aware of what I think of him. He’s very aware of what this football club thinks of him. And the one thing I’m very aware of is that Liam loves playing for Leeds United. He never hides that.
“Liam’s a top-quality player, he leads by example in his determination to win a game.
“But I thought we were solid in the spine of the team.
“Bellusci and Bamba were strong, Bridcutt was sensational in the middle of the park and my front two put in another incredible shift which makes them difficult to play against.”
Evans’ front two of Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara looked increasingly established, despite the return of Chris Wood from injury on Saturday.
Wood made his comeback from a hamstring strain in the final five minutes at Ewood Park but United were already two goals to the good through Bamba’s close-range volley and a classy breakaway goal from Antenucci.
Antenucci’s effort was his fourth in three games, re-establishing him as the club’s top scorer. His performance added further weight to his claim for a new contract with his current deal due to expire at the end of this season.
Evans repeated comments made by him last week, telling Antenucci to “let your football do the talking” as the Italian waited to see if United would offer him extended contract terms.
Leeds’ head coach said: “The conversation is just ‘go and play your football. Let your football do the talking’.
“He’s got a lot of games to go between now and the end of the season. It’s easy to be good for a week. It’s a lot harder to be good for 10 weeks or for the season. But he’s a wonderful player.”
Evans, meanwhile, said he expected Liam Cooper to train in the early part of this week after missing Saturday’s game with a minor hamstring problem. The centre-back is expected to be fit for this weekend’s West Yorkshire derby against Huddersfield Town.