Leeds open transfer talks - but will Cellino part with cash?

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty.
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Steve Evans has revealed that transfer talks at Leeds United are already underway as he urged his squad to give the club “half a chance” of making the play-offs.

Evans met with owner Massimo Cellino on Tuesday and said the club were already in contact with a rival club about a January target ahead of the opening of FIFA window in two weeks’ time.

Leeds’ head coach is pressing for new signings next month and has previously warned that investment is needed to breathe life into a season which is struggling to gather momentum.

Evans, however, had also conceded that Cellino is unlikely to throw money at the campaign unless United’s players can escape from the lower reaches of the Championship and give themselves a sight of the top six.

Leeds dropped to 18th last weekend after an unfortunate goalless draw at Charlton Athletic but Evans and Cellino spoke about transfers in the aftermath of that match and Evans said he was hopeful of making “two or three good signings – maybe more.”

The former Rotherham manager has maintained his interest in Norwich City’s Kyle Lafferty – a striker he tried and failed to land in the recent emergency loan window – though he denied that the approach made by Cellino this week had targeted the Northern Ireland international. Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Evans said: “We’re interested in three or four good players. Our president, I was with him (on Tuesday) and he was on the telephone to another club about a player – not Kyle – we’re trying to do.

“We’re working diligently and hard behind the scenes and hopefully what we’re doing is putting ducks in a row to make something happen if we give ourselves an opportunity to push up the league.

“If we get points between now and MK Dons on January 2 then we’ll have an opportunity. If we have half-a-chance then I’m sure we’ll strengthen with two or three good signings – maybe more.”

Evans replaced Uwe Rosler as head coach two months ago with Leeds on 11 points and in 18th position. The club have accrued 12 more in the Scot’s nine matches in charge but results elsewhere in the CHampionship on Tuesday night left them 11 points short of the play-offs with tomorrow evening’s game in hand.

Wolves, under manager Kenny Jackett, are also struggling to stay in touch with the top six and a spate of draws in the past few weeks have held the Molineux club back.

Evans, however, said: “We’re not winning every week so we can’t be thinking we’re going to take advantage of a team who are drawing games.

“I’ve looked at some of the clips and if you were Kenny you’d be disappointed that you’ve not nicked a win at Ipswich or that you’ve not beaten Burnley. You’d say they’ve been unlucky.”

The United boss, however, said his own players had been unfortunate to take only three wins from his spell as head coach.

Leeds were guilty of missing glaring chances in the second half at Charlton, including a close-range effort from Tom Adeyemi which stuck the outside of a post 12 minutes from time.

“If you’re not winning games you’d rather be not winning them by making chances and being unlucky than be a team who’s looking aimlessly out of control,” Evans said.

“We’re very much a team who, bar maybe one-and-a-half games, have been in control for periods of time. We’ve not had the points reward we should have had.

“That’s easy to say and every manager will say it over the season but we should win at Fulham and Bolton, we should have beaten Rotherham. We took it on the chin that we were poor at QPR and deservedly got beat but we should have won at Charlton.

“I don’t see any points in there which we’ve been fortunate to get. Other teams have been fortunate to get them against us. If we play like we did in the second half at Charlton and in the first half against Hull City, we’ll do okay.”