BOLTON Wanderers are ready to push Matt Mills in Leeds United’s direction after signing Alex Baptiste from Blackpool.
The Lancashire club seem increasingly keen for a firm approach from Elland Road with Mills destined to be sidelined by a major reshuffle at the Reebok Stadium.
United are not believed to have made a serious enquiry about Mills, a defender who played under Leeds manager Brian McDermott at Reading, but both he and his existing club are open to a deal which takes him to Yorkshire.
The 26-year-old was a rising star during McDermott’s reign at the Madejski Stadium but his career has suffered since a £5million move to Leicester City in 2011.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson dropped him towards the end of his first season with the club and sold him to Bolton last summer. Bolton used him infrequently this season and are already looking to sell-off a centre-back who is thought to be earning in the region of £25,000 a week.
Wanderers will look for a fee in the region of £1million, money which boss Dougie Freedman is planning to use to buy West Bromwich Albion centre-back Craig Dawson. Baptiste has already agreed to join Bolton in July after reaching the end of his contract with Blackpool.
McDermott plans to recruit at least one new centre-back of his own before the start of next season, strengthening an area of United’s squad which has little in the way of cover behind Tom Lees and Jason Pearce.
Leeds’ new manager has made no comment about specific transfer targets since drawing up a list of preferred signings shortly before the end of the season but Mills was a defender who thrived during his reign at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading invested £2million in Mills in 2009, signing him from Doncaster Rovers, and he wore the captain’s armband for parts of McDermott time as manager.
Leicester’s weighty bid of £5million forced a sale two years later, however, with Mills’ stock rising on the back of Reading’s run to the play-off final but a fall-out with Pearson put him back on the market within 12 months.
Leeds were one of the clubs who attempted to sign Mills on loan before his switch to Bolton last July.
McDermott admitted on Wednesday that he was still to make serious progress in the transfer market but said: “It’s not a secret that I’m looking to move things forward quickly.
“For me it’s very straightforward in the sense that my targets are my targets and I know what I’m looking to get.
“But I don’t really want to talk about being close to this or close to that because the important thing is getting deals over the line.”
Suggestions that McDermott was poised to land Zurab Khizanishvili – another ex-Reading defender – came to nothing on Tuesday when it was revealed that the Georgian centre-back had agreed to stay with Kayserispor in Turkey for another year.