GARRY MONK has issued a word of warning for any teams looking to raid Leeds United in the January sales, insisting the Whites won’t be losing any key players and declaring: “We need to add, not take away.”
A thriving United will approach Boxing Day’s trip to 11th-placed Preston North End sat fifth in the Championship and with seven wins from their last nine league games.
But Monk says Leeds will not lose any of their crown jewels come the opening of the January transfer window, having already declared earlier this year that United would not change their stance on keeping left-back Charlie Taylor until the end of the season.
Taylor saw his transfer request rejected by the club last summer and his present Whites deal expires at the end of the current campaign. Head coach Monk, though, says Leeds are determined to only strengthen their squad in the new year, with the Whites known to be seeking another striking option whilst also hoping to tie up loan stars Pontus Jansson and Pablo Hernandez on permanent deals.
Hernandez is on loan from Qatar club Al-Arabi until January at present with Leeds confident of making that move permanent while Swedish international centre-back Jansson joined Leeds on a season-long loan from Serie A side Torino in the summer when United agreed a deal to sign the defender permanently once he had played 20 games.
Jansson’s excellent form has attracted interest from Premier League clubs since, with the Swede forming a rock-solid partnership with fellow centre-back Kyle Bartley who himself is on a season-long loan from Swansea City.
Jansson has now made 17 appearances for Leeds and is set to make his 20th Whites outing in the home clash against Rotherham United on Monday, January 2.
Leeds’ Christmas schedule first takes in Boxing Day’s trip to Preston North End, followed by a Thursday night visit to Aston Villa for a game screened live on Sky Sports.
United could be third come Thursday’s clash at Villa Park should they win at Deepdale on Monday and Monk says Leeds will then look to further strengthen their side and in no way weaken it in the new year.
“We can’t and we won’t be losing any of our players,” said Monk.
“We need to add, not take away.
“Everyone here is fully committed to what we are doing and I am very happy with the squad.
“We will continue to work in that way and the only way that things will happen is if we can help strengthen and help the squad in certain positions to give us our best benefit and our best chance of continuing to win games.”
Monk is particularly keen to recruit a new striking option in the new year with Leeds heavily reliant on top scorer Chris Wood’s goals so far this term.
The 25-year-old New Zealand international has netted 14 times already this season and centre-back Bartley is United’s joint second top scorer alongside strikers Marcus Antonsson and Souleymane Doukara with three goals each.
“We have spoken internally with the club and they are well aware of the positions that we need to strengthen and help this group,” said Monk.
“It’s like we did in the summer - working very closely together, they understand and I am sure the club will be working as hard as they can to try and make those positions more strong than they are already and identify the right players to come in and help the squad.”
Asked if he had a message for United’s loyal fans on the eve of Christmas, Monk declared: “Just to keep continuing to come to the games.
“They have been great. The support is massive for us. They are growing in their numbers - home and away and it’s going to be great on Boxing Day - all those away fans travelling down there in good spirits and we want to try and put on a performance that they can be proud of.
“We need to keep playing our part in that role and keep trying to put the performances on the pitch for them.”