THOMAS CHRISTIANSEN said he would welcome further signings this month but warned that Leeds United were facing a “very difficult” market amid calls for the club to recruit another striker.
READ/WATCH MORE - We’ll cope with loss of Saiz insists O’Kane
United’s head coach secured a new left-back on Thursday with the £1.5m arrival of Laurens De Bock from Club Brugge but his squad has taken a serious hit with the loss of Luke Ayling to ankle surgery for the rest of the season and Samuel Saiz to a six-match ban.
De Bock will miss out on an immediate debut at Ipswich Town tomorrow having return to Brussels for family reasons after signing a four-and-a-half contract at Elland Road and Christiansen is without six other first-team squad members through injury, illness and suspension.
Leeds had no initial plans to invest heavily in players during the January transfer window but the club tackled the need for a natural left-back with their move for former Belgium Under-21 international De Bock and Christiansen looks short of options up front with Caleb Ekuban nursing a fractured foot and Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Jay-Roy Grot struggling for form.
United’s existing squad has put them in firm contention for the Championship play-offs, however, and Christiansen’s side will attempt to defend sixth place during Saturday’smatch at Portman Road.
Christiansen admitted that more additions to his squad would be helpful but said he accepted it was “not easy” to find suitable players at an affordable price in January.
“Of course I would like more players to come but it’s very difficult, this winter market,” he said. “We have to see the different options we have. It’s not easy but of course I would like that.”
Leeds are two weeks into the window but having previously played down transfer talk, Christiansen did not rule out the possibility of adding another centre-forward to his squad.
United admire Preston North End’s Jordan Hugill, a player heavily linked with the club in the summer, but are unwilling to meet Preston’s £8m price tag.
We have to see the different options we have. It’s not easy but of course I would like that.Leeds Unitred head coach, Thomas Christiansen
Asked if he would like to see another striker join this month, Christiansen said: “That could be a possibility but the market is very difficult right now. If that helps the team then of course.”
Saiz, from his role at number 10, has contributed nine goals and five assists this season and Christiansen is facing up to the prospect of being without him until Leeds host Brentford on February 24.
The Spaniard was sent off and banned for six games for spitting at midfielder Robbie Willmott during last Sunday’s FA Cup third-round defeat to Newport County.
Christiansen said: “What he did was very bad. That doesn’t help the team, the club or anyone but he apologised and we expect and hope he’ll learn from that.
“It’s nothing we will accept from anyone and not our players. We have to behave well on the pitch and he has to take his punishment and learn from this.
“Now we don’t have him for six weeks and we need to get him back. He will have these six weeks to prepare himself for the rest of the season, to give something back from what he has done.”
Christiansen, however, was pleased with the signing of De Bock, a defender who won the Belgian top-flight title with Brugge in 2016.
In the absence of a specialist left-back, the position at Leeds has passed between Gaetano Berardi and Vurnon Anita this term and came to be seen as a point of weakness before Christmas.
“That will be a good signing,” Christiansen said. “He’s played games in the Europa League and the Champions League and he has good quality, especially in offence. It’s a player we need.”