Leeds United: Kilkenny poised for Asia Cup extension

Leeds United were due to learn today whether Neil Kilkenny's absence from Elland Road would extend into the latter stages of this month.

The midfielder has been on international duty with Australia for the past fortnight, and the Socceroos were bidding to qualify for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup during their final group game this afternoon.

A convincing victory over India and a 1-1 draw with South Korea left Australia on the verge of a place in the quarter-finals, needing only a point from their Group C fixture against Bahrain to ensure their progression.

Holger Osieck's squad were among the pre-tournament favourites to win the final on January 29 and Leeds expected to lose the services of Kilkenny for most of this month.

However, his continuing involvement was dependent on the outcome of today's clash in Doha. Kilkenny has been an unused substitute in both games to date.

His departure after Leeds' 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on New Year's Day left the Championship club short of midfielders, and manager Simon Grayson hinted that new additions to his squad were possible before this weekend's visit to Portsmouth.

United have made three signings during the January transfer window, landing Andy O'Brien from Bolton Wanderers, George McCartney on loan from Sunderland and young midfielder Zac Thompson on a short-term basis from Everton.

Meanwhile, Arsaenal boss Arsene Wenger feels football should not be "punished" for paying high wages, as long as clubs live within their means.

It is 50 years ago this month since the 20 weekly maximum wage was abolished in English football.

The Gunners have been held up as an example of sensible financial governance by UEFA, who are set to implement tough new financial restrictions on what clubs can spend.

Wenger believes if teams can keep within their resources, then they should be free to agree whatever deals are appropriate.

"Why would you just want to punish football? There are plenty of people out there who make much more money than footballers," Wenger said.

"If you want to limit wages in the whole society, why not? But that needs a complete debate and is more political than sport."

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Leeds United's playmaker Samuel Saiz breaks from the defence. Picture: Simon Hulme

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