Leeds United: Whites chasing double swoop

STAYING: Leeds United striker Matt Smith has signed a new three-year-deal. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
STAYING: Leeds United striker Matt Smith has signed a new three-year-deal. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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DAVID HOCKADAY says Leeds United are targeting several more quality signings to ‘make a difference’ at first-team level – with the club eyeing a flurry of further business before the summer transfer window closes.

Leeds, whose striker Matt Smith signed a new three-year deal on Monday, are now focusing on sealing a double swoop for Brazilian midfielder Adryan and striker Mirco Antenucci with their recruitment set to head into overdrive ahead of the September 1 deadline.

Antenucci is understood to be close to finalising a move to Elland Road, with Adryan’s agent Reinaldo Pitta having also spoken of his client’s desire to play for United, stating: “We are talking. He would like to play for Leeds.”

United, who entertain Brighton on Tuesday night (7.45pm), have signed ten players this summer and are hoping to secure international clearance from the Italian FA to enable their latest, Catania centre-back Guiseppe Bellusci, to be part of their plans against Brighton.

Head coach Hockaday said: “I am looking at players who can come in and make a difference. That is the key now. The president and I are talking, texting and meeting every day and looking at options.

“It’s a very considered approach and I think we have done pretty well so far.

“We have had a really good look at the players and assessed where we feel we need to strengthen. And I think if and when we bring players in, I’d like to think they are going to be players who are going to challenge the starting eleven, instead of squad players.

“We are not going to rush or panic. There’s lots of good players out there and hopefully lots of good business to be done by the president. We have been close to a number of deals; a lot closer than people are aware of.

“I would like to think by the time the international break has finished and the dust has settled, we will have a better idea of where we should be setting our sights.”

Smith’s new deal secures his Elland Road future until 2017 and while he has been restricted to just over half an hour of Championship action from the bench so far this term, Hockaday insists he remains a big part of his plans, albeit in a remodelled role he been earmarked to play in this season, as opposed to being just a traditional targetman.

Hockaday said: “He is part of our plans and a big part in every which way. He just needs to remodel his game and we need to tinker with his game a little bit with him doing slightly different runs and giving him a different role in the team. He’s up for that.”

“He’s a good, intelligent lad, so we will work on him and he will be able to fit into our style of play.

“If we do that, with the goals and threat he can bring, we will all be better for that.”

Commenting on his deal, Smith – who hit 13 goals last term and was on the wanted list of Millwall, who saw an initial bid turned down earlier this summer, added: “It is a huge honour and a privilege for me to represent the football club.

“To extend my future here is brilliant and I’m over the moon.”

Leeds are assessing the fitness of striker Souleymane Doukara, who came off with an ankle injury against Middlesbrough, ahead of Tuesday night’s Brighton game.

Alex Mowatt should be back in the fray shortly, while Steve Morison (calf) remains a doubt, with Hockaday admitting he is desperate to return to the fray.

Hockaday said: “Mowatt is coming back and we are looking to get him back involved with the first team training and first team.

“He’s got to earn that, but he has got some talent.

“Morison is totally committed to the cause and can’t wait to pull on the shirt in earnest.”

On Doukara, he added: “He got a bad tackle right in front of the dug-out and I heard it.

“His ankle was swollen after the game and we will see how he is.

“At the moment, he’s a potent weapon for us.”

Hockaday has re-iterated his hope that Sam Byram remains at the club, despite uncertainty over his future.

Byram was the subject of a failed bid from Southampton recently and has also been linked with Sunderland with a move to the Premier League something that is thought to appeal to him.

Hockaday, who said that the club will look at loaning out several young players in the autumn to enable them to gain first-team experience, said: “In my opinion, this is the best place for him and I am sure he is of the same opinion.”

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