Thursday, 3 February 2011

Grayson looking at loan market

Leeds United manager Simon Grayson insisted today that the signings he failed to secure in the January transfer window could yet materialise in the Football League's loan market after admitting to a "difficult" deadline day.
Grayson confirmed his intention to make improvements to his squad with the help of emergency loans after the final hours of the January window passed without significant activity at Elland Road.

United struck a deal to sign Colombian international goalkeeper David Gonzalez on a half-season loan from Manchester City but Grayson's attempts to bring outfield players to Leeds came to nothing on Monday as the transfer deadline passed at 11pm.

The club were widely expected to sign a central midfielder and defensive cover after selling centre-back Neill Collins to Sheffield United and allowing utility player Andrew Hughes to join Scunthorpe United.

The Leeds boss said the refusal of Premier League managers to release squad members on a long-term basis had hampered United's negotiations, and he defended his decision to step back from the market once it became clear that his chosen targets were beyond his reach.

Grayson, however, expects a number of those players to be made available for short-term loans when the Football League open their temporary market on Tuesday morning.

United are understood to have pursued Blackpool's Keith Southern as the January deadline approached, and the prospect of a deal with Manchester City's Michael Johnson – a player who expressed a firm interest in taking up a contract at Leeds – was diminished by a minor injury suffered by the 22-year-old last month.

Grayson will be able to sign players for a maximum of 93 days under Football League rules regarding emergency loans, but he reiterated his wish to avoid recruits who would be no more than "squad players" for the rest of the Championship season.

Grayson said: "I had many players offered to me and there are plenty who I'd be able to bring in on an emergency loan next week. It gives their clubs the option of taking them back after 28 days and I'll utilise that in a week's time or whenever I need to.

"The transfer window was difficult for us and for other teams because clubs are quite reluctant to let players out on loan until the end of the season unless they're sure that they're not going to need them.

"Sometimes the players who are on offer aren't right for you either. We weren't in the market for squad players – we were in it for top players.

"But I'd have thought that some of the players I was looking at will be available (on emergency loan).

"I've spoken to four or five managers about that, all of whom are in the Premier League. The players I'm looking at will definitely make us better as a team and I'd like to think they'll be available as and when I decide to get the business done."

Grayson completed his most significant dealings at the start of January, signing Andy O'Brien from Bolton Wanderers despite firm interest and a concrete offer from Cardiff City, another prominent Championship side.

United's boss was also able to negotiate a half-season loan for Sunderland left-back George McCartney, a deal which Leeds said was funded in part by their FA Cup third-round ties against Arsenal, but the end of the window was largely dominated by departures from Elland Road.

A bid for Collins from Sheffield United was accepted less than a year after Leeds signed him from Preston North End, the second time in quick succession that the defender has seen a transfer end in failure in a matter of months.

Grayson said Sheffield United's offer was "good for the club", and Collins' departure followed Federico Bessone's transfer on loan to Charlton Athletic.

Decisions were also taken to cancel the contracts held by defender Jason Crowe and two of the younger professionals at Leeds, goalkeeper Alan Martin and striker Tom Elliott.

Gonzalez's arrival from Eastlands broke the trend of exits and Leeds welcomed midfielder Neil Kilkenny back from the Asian Cup late on Monday afternoon. Club captain Richard Naylor was also in contention for Tuesday's draw at Hull City after recovering from knee surgery.

Grayson said: "We did a little bit of business early on in the window with Andy O'Brien and George McCartney and we've brought a keeper in from Manchester City.

"I was close to doing a couple of deals on Monday but at the last minute the clubs changed their minds.

"I could have brought in half a dozen other players quite easily they wouldn't have made us too much better. They'd only have been squad players and when I went into the market, I was going in for top-calibre players.

"Unfortunately it didn't quite happen for us but the level of player I was going at was very high. I said early on that people who come here have to be good enough to go straight into the team. We've already got good players here and it would be unfair to bring others in if they're
not going to have much chance of playing.

"I'd still like to have a few more players, and you can see what we've got. But Kilkenny's back now and one or two others have recovered from injury.

"We do have a good squad but I always want to add to it because that's what made us successful in the past and that's what'll make us successful in the future."

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