NEIL Warnock has poured cold water on rumours Leeds striker and January transfer target Luciano Becchio was tonight watching Wigan’s FA Cup tie at Bournemouth.
The Argentinian frontman has been the subject of much transfer speculation having bagged 19 goals for Leeds so far this season, with Roberto Martinez’s Latics one of a handful of sides reported to be keen on his services.
Those rumours only intensified tonight as Becchio missed United’s 2-1 FA Cup third-round replay victory at Birmingham, with twitter rife with reports the 29-year-old was at Dean Court.
But Leeds boss Warnock insists Becchio missed out due to illness and was safely tucked up in his house.
“I’ve heard the rumours but I think he has texted Shaun Harvey (Leeds chief executive) to say he is at home,” said Warnock.
“So he’s obviously heard the rumours.”
He added: “We lost Becchio this morning, he came off training yesterday and said he felt sick. And then the doc said the morning he was sick in the night so he didn’t travel.”
Warnock confirmed he was not aware of any bids for Becchio.
And asked whether he thought the striker wanted to stay at Elland Road, he replied: “We’ll see. I can’t tell you anything other than that.
“I spoke to the owners today and in due course we’ll probably speak about that.”
Wade Elliott put Birmingham ahead tonight shortly after the half-hour mark, just as he had done in the initial meeting which finished 1-1 10 days ago.
But once again Leeds levelled after the break, this time courtesy of Ross McCormack’s first goal since September, before El-Hadji Diouf then quickly completed the turnaround, keeping his cool to chip home from the penalty spot after Paul Robinson had been penalised for handball.
It means Leeds will now host Tottenham in the fourth round of the competition in a televised clash next Sunday.
Warnock added: “It’s a great tie in the next round - Leeds v Tottenham, it whets the appetite.”
Blues boss Lee Clark did not attend the post-match press conference but it could be safely assumed he was just as frustrated with his side’s cup exit as assistant manager Terry McDermott.
City also had extra reason to feel aggrieved, with Robinson’s handball for Leeds’ winner appearing to occur outside the penalty area.
McDermott said: “Of course we’re disappointed, we’re very disappointed with the second-half performance, no one more so than the manager.
“It is a big disappointment because I’m sure the fans would have loved to have seen Tottenham playing here.
“We’re disappointed. I think we’re a bit more than disappointed actually, we’re devastated really because we wanted a big game like that.
“Obviously it would have helped the club as well financially, but it’s not to be.
“But, for me, the most important game is on Saturday (against Brighton) and getting three points and putting a performance on.”