Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Grayson Targets Sheffield United Pair

LEEDS United signed former Sheffield United midfielder player Michael Brown last night but Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate will not be returning to Elland Road.Brown, now 34, was a free agent after being released by Portsmouth this summer and has signed a one-year deal.The deal was completed when Bowyer, also 34, closed the door on Leeds by joining Ipswich Town from Birmingham City.Defender Woodgate, meanwhile, has agreed a pay-as-you-play deal with Stoke City following his release by Tottenham Hotspur.
Both players – who were involved in court controversy together during their first spells with Leeds a decade ago – had been subject of interest from manager Simon Grayson this summer.He is also looking at the possibility of bringing another former crowd favourite Alan Smith ‘home’ from Newcastle but his wages have been a major issue.Brown’s arrival, however, is set to be the first of a string of a new signings at Elland Road with Grayson also keen on Sheffield United midfielders Stephen Quinn and Nick Montgomery.

Grayson wants Quinn to replace Bradley Johnson, who rejected a new deal this summer before joining Norwich City. He has also enquired about Montgomery and is willing to offer striker Billy Paynter in part-exchange in both deals

Commenting on Brown’s signing last night, Grayson said: “He is a player I have long been interested in and I’m glad we’ve been able to sort things out for him to come here. He has experience and know-how, and he has played at the highest level. He fits the bill in terms of the quality of player I was looking to bring in and he will be a great addition to the squad.”

Brown, who started his career at Manchester City, has played for Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Tottenham since leaving Yorkshire eight years ago. He spent four years at Sheffield United and was sold to Tottenham for £5m in the months after the club’s 2003 play-off final defeat to Wolves.

Quinn and Montgomery are among the highest earners at Bramall Lane and their sales would help the Blades stay in control of finances following relegation to League One.

Swansea City, Derby County, and Reading are also chasing Quinn who is under contract with the Blades until the end of next season and is valued at £650,000.

Although Leeds are unlikely to pay that amount, the offer of Paynter in part-exchange could help bring about a deal.

Paynter, 27 tomorrow, worked under Blades manager Danny Wilson at former club Swindon where his goals helped the club reach the League One play-off final.

But he has struggled since joining Leeds last summer and scored only one goal in 22 appearances.

Wilson is desperate for a new striker after selling Darius Henderson to Millwall and Jamie Ward to Derby County.

With striker Jordan Slew still discussing his future amid interest from Fulham and Welsh international Ched Evans poised to move on, the need for replacements will intensify between now and the start of the season.

Montgomery is also a target for newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers, who are managed by Neil Warnock, and a move to the Premier League would be hard to resist.

Warnock failed in a bid to land Montgomery last season and his latest move has been hindered by uncertainty off the field at Loftus Road.

Leeds defender Patrick Kisnorbo has ended uncertainty over his future by signing a new two-year deal at Elland Road.

The Australian international spent 14 months on the sidelines with an Achilles injury before returning to action as a substitute on the final day of last season.

Grayson said: “He’s had a tough time but we know what he is all about and what he brings to the team. He is a very important member of our squad. The deal shows the commitment of both the club and Paddy and it’s great to have him back with everyone after being out for so long.”

Meanwhile, Alan Quinn – the older brother of Leeds’s target Stephen

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