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Leeds aim to sign new striker this week

Leeds manager Brian McDermott

Leeds manager Brian McDermott

LEEDS UNITED boss Brian McDermott is intensifying his search for new striking recruits this week – in a bid to inject much-needed impetus into the club’s play-off bid.

United drew a blank for the second game running, at Middlesbrough on Saturday, with the match watched by prospective new owner Massimo Cellino, hoping to receive the green light from the Football League for his takeover to be completed this week.

Heading into this Saturday’s game at QPR, United find themselves in 11th spot, seven points adrift of the side currently occupying the final play-off position in Reading, who have played a game more with the pair meeting at Elland Road on March 11.

United have struggled for attacking punch in the last two matches, with top-scorer Ross McCormack having drawn a blank against Brighton and Boro, with McDermott seeking to bolstering his attacking options to help ease the burden on the Scot.

With the loan window open until the final Thursday in March, United have time to assess their options, but with a key schedule of games coming up next month, they remain keen on doing some incoming business sooner rather than later.

McDermott, who revealed at the weekend he has had talks with an unnamed player said: “We have got that resilience and just need to do that extra bit in the final third now that can make that difference.

“Something could happen. We are trying to help the squad as best we can; that’s what we did with Jack (Butland); we’ll wait and see.

“It’s been intimated to me there is a possibility (of bring loan players) in.”

Meanwhile, Butland has been handed a pre-World Cup boost by his weekend rival Shay Given, who believes the 20-year-old has a real chance of getting on the plane to Brazil with England in the summer.

The loan keeper, who joined United for the rest of the season from Stoke City late last week, claimed the man-of-the-match accolade for a faultless weekend showing in the 0-0 televised draw at Middlesbrough.

After the game, Butland revealed that an interview he read from the former Republic of Ireland custodian, who played his final game on loan for the Teessiders on Saturday before returning to Aston Villa, proved a useful tool in his pre-match preparation.

Butland said: “I was actually reading something the other day that Shay said. He said that he had come off the pitch completely shattered and sweating,

even though he’d had nothing to do really. That was because of the concentration and the mental aspect you have to put in.

“He was right. No matter what you do and how much you have got to do, you have got to be switched on and concentrating for the full 90 or 95 minutes.

“You do come off the pitch tired and I was just thankful to help out the lads on Saturday.”

On his thoughts on Butland’s World Cup hopes, Given added: “Jack is a fantastic keeper and obviously was man-of-the-match (on Saturday) and a real keeper for the future, even though he is very young in goalkeeping terms.

“He is probably buzzing to be back out playing again as it’s frustrating when you are not playing, especially at his age.

“It’s a tough one for Jack to get in, but he’s definitely got an outside chance. He went to the last European Championships, so he’s definitely got a chance.”

Meanwhile, United midfielder Alex Mowatt has been named in England U19’s 17-man squad for their clash with Turkey at Chester’s Swansway Stadium next Wednesday (March 5).

Mowatt was called up for the clash with Hungary in November, only to pull out through a groin injury.

Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon has been charged by the Football Association following a series of tweets in reaction to criticism of his penalty miss at Tottenham by former Leeds boss Neil Warnock.

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