Leeds United head coach Garry Monk said he was still holding out hope of securing last-minute reinforcements in the transfer window as he licked his wounds from a 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Monk insisted that signings remained on the agenda at Elland Road after a third loss from five Championship games took Leeds into the season’s first international break in 21st place in the table.
The United boss, who has overseen a summer in which 10 signings have joined his squad already, remains in the market for new players and is understood to be seeking an experienced central midfielder and a striker before FIFA’s deadline passes at 11pm on Wednesday.
Any move for a midfielder is likely to depend on Leeds finding takers for out-of-favour pair Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga, neither of whom have figured prominently in the first month of the season.
United’s search for a forward, meanwhile, has focused on West Ham United’s Ashley Fletcher, a player they attempted to sign permanently prior to his move from Manchester United to West Ham in July.
Monk wants to take Fletcher on a season-long loan but injuries to other strikers in West Ham’s squad have put that proposal in doubt. West Ham strengthened their options in attack over the weekend by unveiling Juventus’ Simone Zaza on a temporary deal but Fletcher made the starting line-up for their Premier League game at Manchester City yesterday.
Monk refused to discuss specific targets after Saturday’s defeat at Forest but he left no doubt about his wish to see additions to his squad ahead of the deadline. “I’ve said that all along,” Monk said. “It’s over to the club and we’ll see this week.
“We’re hopeful, of course, and it’ll be a busy time now for all clubs. I know the club will be working hard and we’ll wait for those situations – if they happen or if they don’t. When that window closes we have to be ready as a group.”
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Monk was frustrated by Saturday’s defeat to Forest, seven days on from an impressive win over last season’s play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday, and he pointed the finger at defensive errors after Forest scored twice from corners.
Club captain Sol Bamba, who struggled for form in the early weeks of the campaign, was left out of Monk’s 18 at the City Ground and the loss could see new signing Pontus Jansson – an unused substitute in Nottingham – given a full league debut at centre-back when Leeds resume their season with a derby at home to Huddersfield Town on September 10.
Monk declined to comment on whether Bamba’s future at Elland Road was in doubt. The experienced defender is into the last year of his contract at Leeds.
“I pick an 18 from a football perspective,” Monk said. “It’s my job to do that and I picked an 18 which I thought could get a result.”
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis – a long-time admirer of Leeds’ left-back Charlie Taylor – attended Saturday’s game but United remain insistent that Taylor will not be sold, despite the transfer request submitted by him last month.
After their failure to pick up points in Nottingham, Monk told his players to be ready for two hard weeks of training during the international break.
“You can see the potential of the team,” he said. “It’s right there. We can be very competitive but the players need to realise quickly that they have to cut these mistakes out.
“I can’t keep standing here talking about mistakes and errors. They cost you and they’ve cost us. Without the mistakes we’d have got results from all of our games but that’s also a positive.
“It’s something to make us realise that we can be competitive. We can come out the other side (of the international break) and look to put a good September together.”
Meanwhile, the scorer of Forest’s third goal – Oliver Burke – has joined Bundesliga new boys RB Leipzig for around £13m.