Leeds United: Redfearn reining in Austin transfer talk

Rodolph Austin.
Rodolph Austin.
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Leeds coach Neil Redfearn says there’s an element of ‘act in haste repent at leisure’ over Rodolph Austin’s future.

Neil Redfearn wants Rodolph Austin to stay at Leeds United beyond the end of the January transfer window, claiming the midfielder’s departure to another Championship side would be a “mistake”.

Redfearn warned that the loss of Austin would deprive Leeds of “the Championship experience we need” after the Jamaican international fought his corner with a spirited display in Sunday’s FA Cup defeat to Sunderland.

Austin is out of contract in the summer and has not been offered an extension by the club, and United entered January with the intention of listening to offers for him.

Brighton expressed an interest in Austin prior to the sacking of their former head coach Sami Hyypia last month, and Millwall – where ex-Leeds assistant Nigel Gibbs is now on the coaching staff – were expected to bid for the 29-year-old amid the belief that United were ready to release him. Both clubs, like Leeds, are involved in a fight against relegation from the Championship.

The proposed signing of Slovenian international Rene Krhin from Inter Milan cast further doubt over Austin’s future and that of other midfielders at Elland Road but Leeds are yet to conclude a deal for Krhin and their plan to lose Austin this month appears to have been shelved following his dominant second-half display in Sunday’s 1-0 loss at the Stadium of Light.

Redfearn said: “On his day, Rudy’s a big asset. He was on it at Sunderland and the way he played showed what he can offer.

“He’s probably suffered from inconsistency at times but that’s something for us to keep working on. We’re talking about needing Championship experience and to be fair to Rudy, he’s got that experience. Other clubs in the Championship want it. They see something in Rudy they like. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty in letting him go.

“If he wants to stay then that suits me fine. I think it would be a mistake to lose him. He’s a real handful when he plays like he did at Sunderland and that performance should do his confidence good.”

Austin has reached the final stages of a three-year deal at Elland Road, the contract he signed when former Leeds manager Neil Warnock signing him from SK Brann in the summer of 2012.

He caught the eye on occasions with a physical approach and box-to-box performances but his form has wavered in other periods and despite being named as club captain by Brian McDermott in 2013, he asked to be relieved of that duty less than six months later, indicating to McDermott that the pressure of the captaincy was affecting his game.

Austin has played a regular role in the current Championship season, starting 11 league fixtures and appearing as a substitute in six others, but his start at Derby County on December 30 was his first for two months. Redfearn selected him again at Sunderland, alongside Luke Murphy in a revised midfield formation.

United lost the third-round tie to a goal from Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt but the club went unrewarded for an encouraging second half, hitting a post in injury-time and denied a penalty following a foul by Sebastian Larsson on Charlie Taylor which Redfearn claimed was inside the box.

“We won the physical battle up there and that’s something we need to do more often,” Redfearn said. “I’m mindful of the fact that we lost the game but we were up against a decent Premier League side and in fairness, with the way the tie went in the second half, it wouldn’t have raised many eyebrows if we’d gone on and won it.

“I want the team to play football and I want them to work the ball but it’s plain to see that we have to compete too. Murphy and Austin did that for us and it gave us the platform we needed.”

Redfearn’s squad are undergoing a tactical shift after his decision to dispense with the midfield diamond which Leeds persevered with throughout the first half of the season.

United’s head coach used a 4-2-3-1 system at Sunderland, fielding Austin and Murphy behind an attacking three of Brian Montenegro, Adryan and Casper Sloth, and the formation will remain unchanged at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

Redfearn, whose side are 20th in the Championship and without a win in five league games, said: “It’s not that the diamond doesn’t work or can’t work.

“We’ve had some good performances with that system. I just feel we’ve squeezed as much out of it as we can with this squad.

“A change was called for and it (the 4-2-3-1 system) is the way forward for us now.

“The bonus was the performance of players who haven’t been involved for a while. Casper Sloth was another plus, another big plus.”

Sloth, like Murphy and others, has endured a stop-start season at Leeds. United paid Aarhus £600,000 for him in August but despite featuring heavily during Redfearn stint as caretaker, the 22-year-old has barely played since Redfearn’s appointment as full-time head coach on November 1.

In an interview with a Danish newspaper last month, Sloth described his situation as “really weird” but Redfearn said: “He’s been unlucky to be out of the team.

“We had a bit of run, a decent spell of results, and he wasn’t involved in that period. I wanted to keep faith in the lads who were, to lay a settled team down, but it wasn’t a case of shutting Casper out.

“When he gets out wide and gets himself forward, he’s someone who can cause problems and supply ball to the strikers.

“He needs his attacking head on but ability wise and attitude wise, there’s no problem. He’s got himself in there now.”