Leeds United are working to strike a deal which will see midfielder Michael Tonge make a permanent move to Elland Road on January 1.
United have begun pushing for an agreement over Tonge’s long-term future with the Stoke City player entering the final fortnight of his 93-day emergency loan.
Tonge will rejoin Stoke before Christmas having joined Leeds midway through September, but United hope to negotiate his release from Stoke and strike the terms of a full-time contract in time for the start of the January transfer window.
The 29-year-old is seven months away from becoming a free agent and is understood to favour the option of a permanent switch to Elland Road after failing to make a serious impact during a four-and-a-half year spell on the books at the Britannia Stadium.
City were expected to make Tonge available on a free transfer next month but the Premier League club could yet demand a fee for the midfielder following his impressive spell with Leeds.
A source close to the deal, however, said City’s valuation of Tonge was likely to be “nominal”.
Tonge has been a fixture in United’s line-up since his transfer to Elland Road, playing 18 times and scoring five goals including one in last weekend’s 4-2 win at Huddersfield Town.
Football League rules limiting emergency loans to a maximum of 93 days will prevent Leeds from involving Tonge in their post-Christmas schedule but the club intend to tie up the signing ahead of their New Year’s Day meeting with Bolton Wanderers.
Manager Neil Warnock has been effusive in his praise of Tonge, saying: “He needed games when he came here but the fitter he’s got, the better he’s been.”
Meanwhile, United’s FA Cup third-round tie against Birmingham City has been scheduled for Saturday, January 5.
The game at Elland Road will kick-off at 3pm.