Steve Evans is confident that Liam Bridcutt will agree to extend his loan at Leeds United to the end of the season despite the distraction that Championship leaders Brighton plan to sign the midfielder next month.
The 26-year-old spent four years with Brighton between 2010 and 2014, winning promotion from League One in his first campaign and claiming successive player-of-the-year awards.
His form on the south coast earned him a £3million move to Sunderland 18 months ago but Bridcutt has struggled to settle at the Stadium of Light and was made available in the recent emergency window.
Evans fought persistently to sign Bridcutt last month and finally beat Cardiff City to his signature 24 hours before the Football League’s deadline having pursued the midfielder for several weeks.
Bridcutt, who is firmly out of favour at Sunderland, moved to Leeds with a view to seeing out the Championship term at Elland Road.
He shone on his home debut last weekend, contributing to a 2-1 win over Hull City, and Evans said he was optimistic that reports of Brighton’s interest would not prevent him from extend Bridcutt’s loan when the January transfer window opens.
United’s head coach, however, conceded that a bid from Brighton to take him permanently could “change that” and said he would look for possible replacements as insurance against Bridcutt’s departure.
“I know where there’s another Bridcutt,” Evans said. “I’m all right with that. But media and agents get together and two-plus-two makes 107. That’s what happens these days. I’ve always said that we have a commitment on all sides for Liam to be extended.
“Should something permanent change that then we have to respect that but it’s not just Liam Bridcutt who made us good (against Hull) on Saturday and it’s not just Liam who can do that role.
“But I love the kid and it’s only the fact that Brighton are top of the league that would make him choose them. For every other statistic on the planet, he’d choose Leeds United.
“I’m still hoping that would be at the front of his mind. He’s certainly intimated to me that he wants to be around. I’ll listen to him and people here rather than listen to the television.”
Bridcutt’s emergency loan at United runs to January 2 and finishes after their game at home to MK Dons.