NEIL WARNOCK is facing a race against time to land new recruits ahead of Thursday’s emergency loan deadline – as he bids to stop Leeds United’s Championship drama lurching into a full-blown crisis.
The United boss, short of squad options, is desperate to bolster his ranks with a couple of new additions before the 5pm deadline to breathe new life into the embattled Whites, without a win in their last seven league matches – their worst sequence since early 2008.
Warnock has been linked with a move for Stoke City defender Ryan Shotton and the YEP understands the Elland Road chief made an enquiry about his services last week with suspended centre-half Jason Pearce not available until the derby clash at Huddersfield Town on December 1.
Clint Hill, who Warnock unsuccessfully tried to sign in the summer, is another rumoured target, although given the ongoing uncertainty regarding the future of QPR boss Mark Hughes, who has been loathe to loan out any members in his 25-man squad so far this term, January is thought to be a more likely time for business.
Another possible target is former favourite Matt Kilgallon, down the pecking order at Sunderland.
Warnock’s selection woes increased on Sunday with Luke Varney copping an automatic three-match ban for his dismissal early in the second half against Millwall.
Varney’s absence further depletes United’s squad with key midfielder Rodolph Austin out until the New Year with a cracked ankle bone and the likes of Leigh Bromby and Davide Somma still unavailable with Warnock having made no secret of the fact that he needs some new signings – and fast.
United face competition from several Championship rivals to land Shotton – that is if Stoke decide to loan him out ahead of Thursday’s deadline, which is looking increasingly doubtful.
Leicester City, Ipswich Town and Birmingham City are among others keen on the 24-year-old, who made just his third appearance of the season in the Potters’ top-flight clash at West Ham last night, coming on from the bench for the injured Andy Wilkinson.
It represented Shotton’s first taste of action since August 28, when he made his only start of the campaign in the Capital One Cup clash with Swindon.
With full-back Mark Wilson recovering from a broken leg sustained recently, Potters boss Tony Pulis – who rebuffed Warnock’s loan advances for striker Cameron Jerome earlier this month – is likely to be reluctant to loan out Shotton, who provides cover for both the former Portsmouth player and Wilkinson.
Young United duo Dom Poleon and Zac Thompson will remain on loan at League One side Bury until January 3 after their deals were extended.
Both players have been given permission to play in the cups for the Shakers –but there is a 24-hour recall clause which ensures either player, or both, can be brought back to Elland Road.
The duo have made a big impression at Gigg Lane after being brought in by ex-Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell, with Poleon having scored twice in eight appearances.
Thompson also scored his first ever league goal in the Shakers’ 1-1 draw with visiting Carlisle United on October 16.
Meanwhile, last season’s top-scorer Ross McCormack continued his return to fitness with 30 minutes of action for the development squad in their 4-3 loss to Crewe Alexandra yesterday afternoon at Thorp Arch.
Patrick Antelmi, Chris Taylor and Chris Dawson were the United scorers in the reverse against the Railwaymen.
United: Rachubka, L Turner, Gimpel, Kisnorbo (Clamp 60), Taylor, N Turner, Lenighan (Stokes 80), Snodin, Dawson, McCormack (Antelmi 30), Gray. Subs not used: Grimes, Payne.