Leeds United: McDermott plays waiting game in transfer market

David Haigh chats to manager Brian McDermott. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
David Haigh chats to manager Brian McDermott. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has held further discussions with the club’s managing director, David Haigh, in an effort to break the impasse over a proposed fourth summer signing.

McDermott and Haigh met for talks on Friday (July 19) after another week of patience from United’s boss failed to reward him with a new arrival.

Incoming deals at Elland Road have run dry since Leeds announced two in the space of three days a fortnight ago, unveiling Luke Murphy and Noel Hunt, and McDermott flew home from the club’s tour of Slovenia on Wednesday with the intention of speaking to his board about the situation.

McDermott has signed a total of three new players in the summer transfer window and his well-publicised pursuit of a fourth target appears to have ground to a halt.

United’s boss is refusing to name the player concerned but, as revealed in the YEP yesterday, Leeds have approached Bolton Wanderers over the availability of centre-back Matt Mills, formerly McDermott’s captain at Reading.

Brighton’s Gordon Greer has also been identified as a possible recruit and McDermott gave a hint about his plans by appearing to suggest that a potential signing has been earmarked to carry the captain’s armband at Elland Road next season.

Asked about his latest target, McDermott said: “It hasn’t changed. Nothing’s really changed as far as that’s concerned. I want it to be done, it’s really important for me that it gets done.”

Lee Peltier is United’s captain at present but the right-back looks likely to replaced by McDermott before the Championship season starts.

Peltier admitted this week that he would pass on the armband without complaint if McDermott chose to relieve him of the position and appoint a new skipper.

“The captain is something I’ll discuss with the players when the time comes,” McDermott said. “It’ll be done for the Brighton game – hopefully.”

The slow trickle of players into Elland Road has increasingly dictated McDermott’s strategy for the new term with the Leeds manager committing to a midfield diamond formation.

His tactics during three years at Reading were more reliant on wingers, helped by the presence of Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff in his squad, but McDermott is lacking wide options at United and is likely to use his established formation again during this afternoon’s friendly against Walsall.

“I like the way that the formation works,” he said. “It fits the players and you have to get a formation that fits them. There’s no point trying to put square pegs in round holes. It’s not what you do.

“You have a set of players and you find a formation. Because of that, formations to me are pretty irrelevant. It’s all about the players.”

For the fifth friendly running, Leeds will be unable to call on Sam Byram, Jamie Ashdown or El-Hadji Diouf at Walsall today but Noel Hunt has recovered from a groin strain and is available to start.

McDermott is hoping for a more free and open game after a string of tight matches in Slovenia, saying: “They were very stop-start games over there and the refereeing standard was pretty diabolical. When the referee had to blow his whistle at the right times, he didn’t. Walsall will be different.”

United’s Championship fixture list has suffered yet another alteration with their visit to Sheffield Wednesday now scheduled for Sunday, January 12 (ko 3pm).

Leeds’ appearance at Hillsborough last October was marred by an attack by a United supporter on Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland and this season’s fixture has been rearranged on police advice.

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