Leeds United: I just can't let Johnson go - Grayson

Leeds United have received tentative approaches for Bradley Johnson, but manager Simon Grayson will not authorise his departure until he has addressed the club's shortage of central midfielders.

Johnson is one of the few senior players who Leeds are willing to auction this month, having placed the 23-year-old on the transfer list in late November, but a lack of alternatives in his position has ruled out an immediate sale.

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Grayson's squad to play Scunthorpe is set to feature only two recognised central midfielders – Johnson and vice-captain Jonathan Howson – following the decision to part company with veteran Senegalese international Amdy Faye this week.

Neil Kilkenny and Ramon Nunez are currently on international duty with Australia and Honduras respectively, and Grayson was not expecting to finalise any new signings before kick-off at Elland Road.

Johnson was transfer-listed after rejecting a final contract offer but has played in every first-team fixture since, and the Leeds boss admitted he could not do without the former Northampton Town player while United's search for new blood continued.

Grayson said: "One or two people have made polite enquiries. They might look at his situation and think they can prise him away on the cheap but we don't give our players away cheaply.

"If we have to do then we'll let Bradley's contract run down to the summer, but I can't let him go anyway until we get a couple more players in, and maybe Kilkenny back as well.

"It's an area where we're a little bit short and I certainly won't be doing anything with him straight away – if at all."

Johnson's existing deal expires at the end of this season and Leeds informed his advisors after the last round of contract talks that they would not be increasing their final offer to him.

The club hope to recoup some of the 250,000 paid to Northampton for his signature in January 2008, but Johnson has remained at the centre of Grayson's first-team plans and will make his 30th appearance of the season tomorrow.

Asked if the club might make a fresh attempt to extend Johnson's contract, Grayson said: "That's down to the chairman and (chief executive) Shaun Harvey, and Bradley and his representatives.

"If they want to get down and do it then that's up to them.

"I'm just getting on with the football side of things but I'm pleased with how Bradley's played and how he's reacted.

"He got his head down, like I wanted him to, and he's put in some really good performances."

Leeds are likely to be without injured winger Lloyd Sam tomorrow but Sanchez Watt has recovered from a head wound and a hamstring strain and is set to feature in Grayson's squad.

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