NEIL WARNOCK has given the broadest hint yet that a much-touted investment deal in Leeds United is imminent after revealing chairman Ken Bates has told him to pinpoint possible January transfer targets.
Talks over a possible change in the ownership structure at Elland Road have been dragging on for more than five months.
Sources close to prospective investor GFH Capital have suggested a deal is “very close” amid reports earlier this week that it may go through before tomorrow’s home game against Watford.
For Warnock, the protracted saga has been a source of frustration with major transfer targets having been missed. A boost should arrive, though, within the next 24 hours courtesy of a loan capture who the Leeds chief believes is capable of getting the Yorkshire club firing again.
As pleased as Warnock would be, however, to bolster his ranks with a new signing, he also recognises that any hopes of a promotion push are likely to rest with an influx of cash.
He said: “From the club’s point of view, it does (need to be done). It can be the only way forward. Everyone knows that, including the chairman. The speculation has got to be put to bed.
“I am told I will be the first to know. There has been so much said in newspaper columns and in tweets. My chairman says there has been that much speculation and yet only he really knows. And he’ll tell me the moment he knows anything.
“He has asked me to pick players out for January, if the takeover comes off etc. That is what I have been doing.
“They are aware I would love to get one or two in before the loan window ends (on November 22) because, otherwise, it will be a five-week period treading water.
“We want to get on with it now. Everyone does. I am no different because time is running out for me, career-wise. I don’t want to waste a moment.”
United have been scouring the loan market for several weeks but it seems the defeat at Turf Moor has prompted the club to step up their efforts.
Former Hull City striker Fraizer Campbell has been on the radar for weeks along with Stoke City’s Cameron Jerome, while QPR’s Alejandro Faurlin was recently linked with Leeds by sources in London.
Warnock added: “If we could get our own house in order, then we would have a fighting chance in the second half of the season.
“That is my objective and probably why it is doubly frustrating for me at the moment. There isn’t a lot wrong; I liken us to a car that is just missing on the carburettor.
“We need to get the screwdriver out and that is why I’d love to get in the player we want this week. If I can, I would forsake anyone else until the window.
“I asked the question and Shaun (Harvey, chief executive) tried to help me out. I am trying to generate some income as well. Just to help out.”
Asked if he would be concerned if no additions had been made by the end of the loan window on November 22, Warnock replied: “I would, yes. Definitely. We would be where we are now come January.
“Everyone at the club knows that. It is just trying to get things done. I just keep hoping I will get some good news.”
With United having not won in five league games – or, as Warnock prefers, “We’ve lost two in nine” – a victory is needed against Watford.
Ryan Hall, who has managed just a cameo from the bench since joining from Southend United last month, pushed his claim for a role by netting four times in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Derby County on Wednesday.
The winger’s fitness remains some way behind the rest of the squad but Warnock said: “I went to Derby and Ryan took his goals well. They were a mixture of tap-ins, a superb free-kick and being in the right place.
“I told him afterwards, ‘I like the tap-ins as you have to look for them’. Ryan worked hard in training last week after we’d taken him out of the match-day squad.
“He will definitely be on the bench but I am also thinking of possibly starting him. A lot depends on whether I bring anyone in.”
As Warnock looks to kick-start his side’s season, he has also warned fans not to expect too much from long-term absentees Davide Somma and Ross McCormack.
Somma has not played since the summer of 2011 due to a ruptured Achilles, while McCormack injured his ankle in the 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City on September 15.
The United manager said: “McCormack won’t play for another three weeks, other than a practice game behind closed doors.
“It is a while since he last played so we can’t just bring him back or he’ll do something else, won’t he? The same applies with Davide Somma.
“I am not expecting to see him until February or March. I was told when I came here not to worry about strikers as Somma will be fit in three weeks. That was last February, so let’s not get carried away.
“Davide is back in training and had no reaction. He plans to join in with the rest of the lads next week. He may even join the kids (today).
“The trouble when you are not doing well up front is that you think back to Somma when he was at his best, not when he’s struggling, so it is harsh to see someone as a saviour.”