Neil Redfearn wants Leeds United to resist any fresh interest in Billy Sharp and Rodolph Austin ahead of tonight’s transfer deadline with impetus building after a 90th-minute win at Huddersfield Town.
Redfearn talked up the in-demand pair and reiterated his intention to keep them at Elland Road. Sharp, 28, who Leeds signed from Southampton in a deal worth £600,000 in August, came close to joining Ipswich Town a fortnight ago after the Championship title contenders attempted to sign him on a half-season loan with a view to a permanent move.
The proposed deal fell through after Ipswich and Leeds failed to agree on a future fee. Sharp’s first season at Elland Road has been a frustrating one, leading to a public display of dissent from him during Leeds’ defeat to Wigan last month, but his last-minute header on Saturday sparked wild celebrations among an away crowd of 3,700.
Redfearn said: “It’s the case that you want to keep your best players and bring better players in. If you’re building for the future and trying to strengthen your team, you have to keep your better players. We’ve changed our system around because we needed to find results and we’re playing with a lone striker. You need a big man who’s mobile in that system so Billy’s chances have been limited.
“But when he’s come off the bench he’s looked like he’s getting back to his old self. We’ve got one or two ways of playing now and perhaps we can go 4-4-2. We’ve got options.”
Sharp’s decisive finish was only his third goal of the season, following on from his penalty in a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest before Christmas.
Redfearn also singled out Austin after United’s win at Huddersfield, saying the Jamaican had been instrumental in the club’s fight against relegation from the Championship.
Austin was the subject of a bid from Wigan last week, approached around the same time as Leeds agreed to sell defender Jason Pearce to the Lancashire club, and he attracted attention from Brighton and Millwall earlier in the transfer window with his contract at Leeds due to expire in the summer. United are yet to offer Austin an extension. The midfielder was a strong presence in Redfearn’s side on Saturday and United’s head coach said: “He’s important to us. He typifies this resurgence with his pace, his power and his competitive edge.”
Redfearn gave a debut to new signing Sol Bamba at the John Smith’s Stadium, using the on-loan Palermo player alongside captain Liam Cooper in the centre of defence.
But fellow recruit Granddi Ngoyi – also brought in on a temporary basis from Palermo – did not feature in Leeds’ 18-man squad after aggravating what Redfearn called an “old injury”.