Leeds United remain locked in contract talks with Pablo Hernandez with the club hopeful of preventing the midfielder’s departure at the end of this season.
United are continuing to discuss an extension to Hernandez’s deal and look set on meeting his demands after another goal over the weekend reiterated his value to the squad at Elland Road.
Hernandez came up with his ninth finish of the campaign in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland, extending an influential run of form which looks likely to earn him the club’s player-of-the-year award.
Leeds have struggled through the second half of this season, but the former Swansea City and Villarreal player has produced three strikes and four assists in his last nine appearances, underlining his importance at a time when Leeds are aiming to tie him to a fresh contract. Hernandez’s existing agreement – a 12-month deal signed last summer – runs out at the end of June, a situation which could effectively make the 32-year-old a free agent in five games’ time.
Leeds opened talks with him three weeks ago after head coach Paul Heckingbottom told the club that Hernandez would be part of his plans for next season.
Hernandez could take the captain’s armband for tonight’s Championship game at Preston North End with club captain Liam Cooper injured and full-back Gaetano Berardi beginning a five-match ban.
Berardi, who skippered Leeds on Saturday, was sent off for the third time in six months against Sunderland and the Football Association confirmed the length of his suspension yesterday, ending his campaign.
Leeds are playing their way towards a mid-table finish but young defender Paudie O’Connor, who made his debut against Sunderland could retain his place at Deepdale this evening, said: “Teams around us might have more to play for but we still need to keep pulling out results.”