Leeds United: Whites consider move for Beckford

Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford and manager Simon Grayson with the League One play-off trophy.
Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford and manager Simon Grayson with the League One play-off trophy.
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Leeds United are considering joining the group of teams bidding to sign Jermaine Beckford on a free transfer.

The former Whites star scored a stunning hat-trick for Preston North End in their 4-0 League One play-off final victory over Swindon Town at Wembley yesterday.

The Elland Road club have been in contact with Beckford’s representatives over the past month and owner Massimo Cellino scouted the forward during Preston’s play-off semi-final against Chesterfield.

Discussions between the two camps are understood to have taken place prior to Uwe Rosler’s appointment as Leeds head coach last week and it is not clear if United’s new boss will look for Cellino to follow up his interest in Beckford.

But the 31-year-old – a prolific goalscorer in a previous five-season spell at Elland Road – is one of the Football League’s more attractive free agents after reaching the end of his deal at Bolton Wanderers.

Bolton released him last week and Beckford, who is on loan at Preston, will start actively looking for new employers after yesterday’s play-off triumph.

His haul of 15 goals in his spell at Deepdale helped Simon Grayson’s side gain promotion to the Championship and Preston have already expressed their desire to keep Beckford next season.

Wigan Athletic – Rosler’s old club who were recently relegated to League One – also want to sign the striker.

Rosler, however, is looking to reshape the squad at Elland Road after replacing former head coach Neil Redfearn on a two-year deal last week.

The German will search for a forward suited to his preferred 4-3-3 formation and Leeds are in need of goals after a season in which Mirco Antenucci finished as the club’s top scorer with 10.

Beckford produced 85 in his final three seasons at United, famously claiming the goal which sealed promotion from League One in 2010.

He left for Everton that summer and then spent two years at Leicester City before joining Bolton in 2013.

Cellino is understood to have watched him during the second leg of Preston’s play-off semi-final win over Chesterfield, a match in which Beckford scored twice.

Liam Cooper

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