Leeds United: Redfearn is eager to hang on to sharp shooter

Leeds United striker Billy Sharp remonstrates with referee Dean Whitestone. PIC: Simon Hulme
Leeds United striker Billy Sharp remonstrates with referee Dean Whitestone. PIC: Simon Hulme
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Neil Redfearn urged Leeds United to fend off any fresh interest in Billy Sharp after Ipswich Town failed with a bid to sign the striker on loan.

United’s head coach, who used Sharp as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, said he would “ideally” keep the forward at Elland Road this month despite doubts about Sharp’s future arising last week.

The 28-year-old was the subject of an approach from Ipswich who asked to take Sharp on loan for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent deal in the summer.

Ipswich’s manager, Mick McCarthy, had aimed to complete the transfer before this game at Millwall on Saturday but Town were unable to reach an agreement with United owner Massimo Cellino amid differing views about how much they should pay for him at the end of the campaign.

Sharp featured as planned in Redfearn’s squad for the visit of Birmingham to Elland Road and completed most of the final half-hour, helping Leeds secure a valuable point through a late goal from Luke Murphy.

Redfearn said: “Billy Sharp’s a Leeds United player. That’s it.

“He looked busy and bright. You want to keep your best players and add better players to them. That’s the idea. He came on and gave us momentum.”

Asked if he wanted Sharp to remain with the club, Redfearn said: “Ideally yes.”

United’s boss, however, admitted he was in the dark about the club’s plans for the strikers, saying: “I wouldn’t know. I can only deal with what’s put in front of me. As far as I know, Billy’s a Leeds player and he’s competing for a place up front.”

Mirco Antenucci, Leeds’ top-scorer, started alongside Steve Morison on Saturday but experienced an unrewarding afternoon before Redfearn replaced him with Sharp on 63 minutes.

The Italian striker punched the dug-out in frustration after leaving the field.

Redfearn said: “Mirco had no luck. He couldn’t fashion that yard to finish but he worked hard.

“He linked in well with Morison and Morison’s a good foil for Sharp or Antenucci.”

Redfearn also defended his decision to revert to a 4-4-2 formation with Lewis Cook on the left side of midfield.

Leeds struggled in the first half and fell behind to an early Paul Caddis penalty but went on to dominate an in-form City side after the break.

“We’re at home and we’ve got to force the reckoning,” Redfearn said. “Lewis was out of position but you can play him anywhere because he’s so good.

“We looked balanced and it gave us the chance to play with two strikers.”

Right-back Gaetano Berardi missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring strain but could be fit to face Bournemouth tomorrow night.