Loanees returning to Leeds United - but maybe not for too long

Leeds United midfielder Toumani Diagouraga.
Leeds United midfielder Toumani Diagouraga.
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TOUMANI DIAGOURAGA has returned to Leeds United after a groin strain cut short his loan at Ipswich Town.

The midfielder left Portman Road yesterday having been ruled out of Ipswich’s last game of the season at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Luke Murphy, centre.

Luke Murphy, centre.

Diagouraga has played 12 times under Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy – his last appearance in a 1-0 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Rotherham United on April 22 – but his move back to Leeds is likely to be short-lived if United opt to retain head coach Garry Monk next season.

The Frenchman has 12 months left on his contract having joined Leeds from Brentford on a two-and-a-half year deal in January 2016 but Monk declared him surplus to requirements after Diagouraga featured in his first game in charge, a 3-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers on the opening weekend of this season.

Monk sent him to train with United’s Under-23s before allowing Diagouraga to move to Portman Road in the winter transfer window.

Ipswich’s deal did not include an option to sign Diagouraga permanently but he is expected to be made available this summer with Leeds set to speak to Monk about extending his contract as head coach.

Jordan Botaka

Jordan Botaka

Diagouraga is one of four members of United’s first-team squad who have been elsewhere on loan this term. Luke Murphy is reaching the end of a half-season stay at Burton Albion while Lee Erwin has scored 10 goals during a year in League One with Oldham Athletic.

Both Murphy and Erwin are under contract at Elland Road next season but Jordan Botaka, who was loaned to Charlton Athletic in August, will reach the end of his two-year deal next month.

The winger came to England from Excelsior in Holland, one of United’s final deals of the summer transfer window in 2015, but he has started only three times and struggled to make an impression under a series of different managers.

Monk took Botaka on Leeds’ pre-season tour of Ireland last July but sent him to Charlton before the start of the Championship term.

United will issue a retained list after rounding off their season with Sunday’s trip to Wigan Athletic. Football League clubs have until the third weekend of May to confirm which players are being released and which are being offered new contracts.

Monk, meanwhile, is set to recall Liam Cooper to the centre of defence at Wigan after Cooper completed a six-match ban imposed for stamping in last month’s 1-0 defeat to Reading.

Cooper missed all but one of Leeds’ fixtures in April but completed his suspension during Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City at Elland Road.

He is in line to replace Pontus Jansson who received his 15th booking of the campaign against Norwich, incurring a mandatory three-match ban.

Two of those fixtures will be carried over to the start of next season following Leeds’ failure to make the play-offs.

Leeds are certain to finish seventh in the Championship this weekend but on-loan defender Kyle Bartley said: “We need to pick ourselves up and finish strongly against Wigan.

“We almost got there but it wasn’t meant to be. We can’t dwell on it and we must take the positives from this season into next year.”