Leeds United head coach Steve Evans is clinging to hope of a breakthrough in the loan market before Thursday’s deadline after a sour reunion with his former club Rotherham United.
Evans vowed to fight for new signings in the remainder of the Football League’s emergency window and described his fruitless search as “frustrating” in the aftermath of a 1-0 defeat to the club he quit in September.
Rotherham secured a first win under new manager and ex-United boss Neil Redfearn as a second-half header from Joe Newell settled a tight derby at Elland Road, raising the South Yorkshire side off the bottom of the Championship.
Evans, who managed Rotherham for three-and-a-half years, has been calling for recruits since his appointment at Leeds last month but the mooted arrival of Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt is yet to materialise and Norwich City appear unwilling to negotiate a deal for striker Kyle Lafferty, another of Evans’ main targets.
The United boss is running short of numbers with captain Sol Bamba nursing a fractured toe and Gaetano Berardi facing up to a three-match ban after being sent off for his part in a confrontation with Rotherham’s Leon Best on Saturday.
Asked if he was still optimistic of securing additions to his squad Evans, who spoke again with owner Massimo Cellino about transfers last week, said: “I do feel confident. I would be disappointed if we didn’t but I’ve been disappointed at Rotherham when we didn’t sign certain players at certain times. It’s always frustrating.
“The type of player we’re trying to sign is a different type of player, a different level of player, and they are more difficult to convince to be here. But we know we need to get stronger and add to the group. We’re trying to do that.”
Bamba was ruled out of the Rotherham match with a minor problem which Evans believes might heal sufficiently for the centre-back to feature at Queens Park Rangers this weekend.
Bamba, a Parisian, watched Saturday’s game at Elland Road and laid a wreath on the pitch before kick-off in memory of the people killed in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
Berardi’s ban, meanwhile, leaves a vacancy at left-back but Charlie Taylor will train with Evans’ squad this week after recovering from a bout of glandular fever and is being lined up to start at Loftus Road. “I don’t think Charlie Taylor’s too far away,” Evans said. “He’ll be in full training and we were saying during the early parts of the first half that we were missing a naturally left-sided full-back. Charlie brings us that.
“We’re not only trying to sign a midfield player and a striker. We’re trying to do something defensively and that was happening before Berardi’s (red card). Sol’s not much of an issue. At a push the big man can be there this weekend if we need him to be.”
Leeds are 17th in the Championship after their sixth defeat of the season and Evans refused to defend a poor performance from his players.
Evans said the result against his former club had “hurt” but Redfearn, who resigned from the post of academy boss at Leeds in July after falling out with Cellino, was visibly delighted with the outcome on his return to United – despite a bizarre post-match spat over car parking at Elland Road.
Redfearn claimed he had been denied a space at the stadium prior to Saturday’s match but United later rejected his comments, insisting Rotherham had been allocated the six passes set aside for all away clubs at Elland Road.
Asked if his dispute with Cellino had soured his memories of Leeds, Redfearn said: “Not towards Leeds United. It’s one man. That’s his problem.”
Redfearn insisted Rotherham had deserved their win, saying: “Leeds were slightly the better side in the first half if I’m being honest but second half it was us. Through the 90 minutes, when it really mattered, we wanted it more than them. That was really apparent.”