Brian McDermott has insisted he was “very happy” with Leeds United’s progress and claimed he was confident of having his squad in shape before the season starts on August 3.
Leeds will contest their first Championship game against Brighton in exactly three weeks’ time and McDermott gave an optimistic outlook as he assessed the extent of the work in front of him.
United’s manager was unable to offer any encouragement about incoming transfers, admitting only that his pursuit of a long-standing but elusive target remained ongoing, and he is still to receive firm approaches for any of the players he intends to move off the wage bill at Elland Road.
But speaking ahead of Leeds’ third pre-season friendly, staged against FC Domzale in Slovenia this evening, McDermott insisted that his strategy was coming together despite the wait for further developments in the transfer market.
McDermott said: “By the time we get to August 3 we need to make sure we’re in a certain place but I’m sure we will be. I’m very happy with where we are and the situation as it stands.
“I’m still targeting one signing at the moment, the signing I’ve been targeting for a long time.
“We’re trying to get this particular player and it’s not happening just yet but we need to try and do that. For me he’d be an important player.
“But the lads who are here are buying into what we’re doing.
“You’re looking to get as much fitness into the boys as possible but they’ve come back really fit so it’s actually been easy for us. If anything it’s hard to get them off the training pitch.
“The mood is good and you can’t manufacture that. You’ve either got it or you haven’t and we’ve got it.”
United’s players were due to train again this morning, completing a session prior to the second game of their three-match Slovenian tour.
Right-back Sam Byram worked alone with head physiotherapist Harvey Sharman while United players trained close to their base in Ptuj yesterday and his injured hip will not be risked against Domzale tonight.
The majority of McDermott’s squad is available, however, with Rodolph Austin in line to make his first pre-season appearance.
Leeds overran a week regional XI in Murska Sobota on Wednesday evening but they are facing a Premier League side in Domzale, one who finished last season in third position. A clash with Ferencvaros ends the tour next Tuesday.
McDermott said: “The opposition are getting better and stronger.
“They (Domzale) are a good side and then we play another very good side next week.
“Tonight is a different ball game to Wednesday so we need to be right.
“At the moment I’m not thinking about the first game of the season or anything like that, just about what we’re doing next.
“I’ll probably only do that the week before (Brighton).
“I need to concentrate solely on the work we’re doing now. Everyone will want to play in the first game and that’s how it always is.
Everyone should want to play in every game.
“As long as the players conduct themselves in the right manner whether they’re chosen or not, which they will do, that’s the sort of ethos we’re looking for.”