Michael Tonge will make the final appearance of his loan at Leeds United against Middlesbrough – but the midfielder remains hopeful of returning to Elland Road in 10 days’ time.
Tonge is set to rejoin to Stoke City on Monday having been with Leeds for the past three months but United are working to secure his release in time for the 29-year-old to sign for them permanently on January 1.
Manager Neil Warnock has used Tonge in 21 consecutive matches since bringing him to Leeds in September and the club are in negotiations with Stoke about fresh a deal next month.
Tonge’s contract at the Britannia Stadium expires at the end of the season and he has repeatedly expressed his desire to move on after failing to establish himself under Stoke manager Tony Pulis.
He joined Stoke from Sheffield United in 2008 but he has made only 18 appearances in the past four-and-a-half years.
Speaking last week, Tonge said: “I’d love to stay on beyond this loan spell.
“Tony Pulis has been great with me and always helps me to find new places to play on loan but sooner or later I’d like to settle down.
“Not knowing how long you’ll be with a club isn’t easy and I don’t really like being in no-man’s land.
“My ideal scenario would be to stay at Leeds for the rest of the season.”
Tonge made his professional debut under Warnock at Sheffield United and was targeted by the Leeds boss after United lost David Norris and Paul Green to injuries in the early stages of the season.
The midfielder has held down a starting place throughout his time with Leeds and played in Wednesday night’s League Cup defeat to Chelsea.
Warnock said: “Michael’s available tomorrow but his loan finishes then and he won’t be able to play in the next two games (at Nottingham Forest and Hull City).”