Steve Evans insisted again that the emergency loan market had little to offer Leeds United after Saturday’s loss to Huddersfield Town brought the Elland Road club back down to earth.
Evans looked on as Leeds’ run of three league wins ended in a 4-1 derby defeat at the weekend and indicated that he would commit to pushing through the last nine Championship fixtures with his current squad, despite seeing his job on the line.
United’s head coach said last week that he would prefer to experiment with players already on the books at Leeds than dip into the loan window before it closed at 5pm this Thursday.
The club have little left to play for in the Championship after a hard outing against Huddersfield – a match which was settled by three goals in eight second-half minutes – but the final week of the Football League’s window has produced fresh links with Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty.
Lafferty is out of favour at Norwich and remains available for a temporary move away from the Premier League after a number of sides including United looked at him in the January transfer window.
Norwich, however, have long been reluctant to agree a deal to share to cost of Lafferty’s wages – thought to be in excess of £30,000 a week – and United appeared to give up on that option after the end of FIFA’s winter window.
Evans claimed that options to improve his team were heavily limited at this stage of the campaign and said his side’s performance against Huddersfield had made the case again for substantial changes in the summer.
The United boss, who is battling to secure an extension to contract as head coach for next season, said: “You always ask yourself ‘if I’m going to get better than this then where are they?’
“If I’m being honest, they’re either playing in the Premier League and won’t come out or they’re in the the top end of the Championship. That’s the reality of the situation.
“If a player jumps up that we think can do a good job then we’d try and see if we could make it happen but we still have a lot of work to do to put the right team in place. Days like (Saturday) tell you a big story.”
Several of Evans’ players have now departed for international matches scheduled before Leeds’ next league game against Rotherham United on April 2.
Lewis Cook has been called up by England’s Under-19s and Liam Bridcutt and Liam Cooper are both in the Scotland squad to play Denmark next Tuesday.
Stuart Dallas has linked up with Northern Ireland and Mustapha Carayol made the Gambia squad for African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Mauritania.
Evans, meanwhile, is likely to give some of his remaining first-team players a run-out in back-to-back Under-21 fixtures this week.
United’s development squad plays Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park today and host Birmingham City at Elland Road at 1pm on Thursday.
Winger Jordan Botaka is expected to feature as Evans lines him up for another first-team opportunity before the end of the Championship term.
Evans criticised Botaka openly last month but said the Congo international had fought his way back into his plans with an improved performance in training.
“When Jordan gets his chance, believe me I want him to grab it,” Evans said. “He will get his opportunity.
“Maybe some of my quotes about him were taken out of context but his performances have dramatically improved and if I can improve my squad by 20 per cent then I’ll say what it takes – and so would any head coach in the country.
“We’ve seen a great reaction from the kid since I sat down and had a long chat with him.”