LEEDS have completed the permanent signing of midfielder Michael Tonge from Stoke for an undisclosed fee.
The 29-year-old, who spent three months on loan at Elland Road at the end of last year, has signed a two-and-a-half year contract.
Manager Neil Warnock, who was in charge of Tonge during their time together at Sheffield United, sees the experienced Mancunian as having a pivotal role to play during the second half of the season as Leeds look to mount a promotion challenge.
“Tongey showed what an important member of the squad he is,” Warnock told the club’s official website. “I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree things with Stoke to bring him here permanently.
“I think people saw Michael get better as time went on and you could see what he brought to the side.”
Tonge made 22 appearances for Leeds between September and December and scored five goals, including stunning strikes at both Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday.
He made over 260 appearances for Sheffield United before a reported £2million fee took him to Stoke in the summer of 2008, but he struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular at the Britannia Stadium and had loan spells at Preston (twice), Derby and Barnsley before teaming back up with Warnock at Elland Road.
• Barnsley, United’s opponents in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby, were dealt another blow last night with Inverness boss Terry Butcher turning down the opportunity to manage them.
Sean O’Driscoll also opted against taking the job on Sunday, with Gary Megson the bookies’ new favourite last night.
“I was pleased that Caley Thistle gave me the opportunity to talk to Barnsley, who were excellent to deal with,” said Butcher. “But I have decided that my future lies at Inverness.”