Neil Redfearn said he had no desire to see Mirco Antenucci leave Leeds United amid suggestions that Norwich City are interested in the striker.
United’s head coach insisted that Antenucci was a player he “rated highly” and warned there was “no way I want him to go” following reports of a bid by Norwich to sign the Italian on loan for the rest of the Championship season.
Antenucci’s representatives claimed on Saturday that the Carrow Road club had tried and failed with an offer to take the 30-year-old ahead of this month’s emergency deadline.
Redfearn has used Antenucci – Leeds’ joint top scorer with eight goals – infrequently in the second half of this term and the forward appeared as a substitute in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest.
Norwich are fourth in the table and competing for automatic promotion, but asked if the club had come forward with an offer for Antenucci, Redfearn said: “It’s the first I’ve heard of it.
“I’m trying to build something, not take it apart, and he’s a good player. I rate Antenucci highly and he’s part of what we’re trying to do in the future. There’s no way I want him to go.”
Antenucci is almost halfway through the two-year deal he signed when he joined Leeds from Italian club Ternana last summer.
He struck eight times in 14 appearances before Christmas but his last goal came against Ipswich Town on December 6 and he has been a victim of a formation which allows for only one striker.
He used his Instagram account to express his disillusionment last weekend but Redfearn said: “He’s a goalscorer and he’s found himself out of the picture because we’re playing a certain way.
“He’s frustrated and he’s going to be. He wants to play like everybody else. But you can only pick 11 and if you’re getting results then you’ve got to stick with the lads who are doing well.”
Sam Byram and Rudy Austin missed Saturday’s goalless draw with foot and thigh injuries respectively and Redfearn admitted that Wednesday’s visit to Fulham “might be too soon” for the pair.
But he expects them to be available for this weekend’s trip to bottom-of-the-table Blackpool and January signing Granddi Ngoyi could also feature in that game if he comes through an appearance for Leeds’ Under-21s against Crystal Palace tomorrow.
Ngoyi has been troubled with a thigh injury since joining United on loan from Palermo but Redfearn said: “If he comes through that then he’s definitely one I’d like to have a look at. If he gets an hour and there’s no problems then we’ll think about him for Blackpool.”