Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones is hoping to keep his January transfer targets under wraps after losing Ross Barkley to Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.
The 19-year-old Everton midfielder impressed at Hillsborough on loan earlier in the season and Jones had spoken of his desire to take the teenager back to Wednesday this month.
But after talking with Toffees manager David Moyes about a deal, Everton decided to send Barkley to Elland Road on loan.
It is a setback to Jones, who is still hunting for players to bring in during this month’s transfer window and the manager is keen to avoid a repeat by alerting rival clubs to a possible target’s availability.
“Ross is a player that we were interested in, that was here, but Everton have decided they want him to go to Leeds,” said Jones. “It wasn’t our decision, it’s their player and they can do what they want.
“Maybe Everton thought somewhere else would be better for his education. Certainly, someone like Ross – who has quality – would have been on our radar. He certainly would have been one player, if he had been available to come here, that we would have been interested in.
“We have to get on with it. We move on to something else, that’s the football world. Unfortunately, he’s gone to Leeds so we can’t get him now and there’s no point talking about it.”
A striker is Jones’s No 1 priority transfer target, although he accepts he has to sell before he can bring any new faces in.
Reports from London yesterday revealed Millwall’s move for Gary Madine had collapsed, but Jones refused to comment on the speculation.
“It’s nice that other clubs talk about your players,” said Jones. “I have conversations with lots of football clubs.
“Gary Madine is part of this football club and gets paid by this football club, like everybody else.
“If there are other options that come around then they are something which the club will consider, so I am not saying ‘yes’ and I am not saying ‘no’.
“There’s a time and a place to discuss it. At the moment everybody here is very buoyant and hard-working, and I am sure everybody wants to stay. Sometimes, that’s not always possible because you are moving out to make way for people coming in, to strengthen what you already have.
“It’s difficult, because I don’t like talking about players and what’s happening until the deal is done. The rumour mill is in full flow because of the transfer window.”
Madine was Wednesday’s top scorer last season when they were promoted from League One, but he has struggled for goals in the Championship, scoring just three times.
One of the players who has kept Madine sidelined is on-loan Stoke City striker Mamady Sidibe. But he – along with Manchester City’s Jeremy Helan – will see his loan deal expire after this weekend’s Championship game against Wolverhampton Wanderers although the Owls are keen to keep the pair at Hillsborough.
“Anybody who has come in and we think are doing well for us, then yes, we will try and keep,” said Jones.
“When the time is right, we will do it. We are always in contact with the clubs; if we feel it’s right to extend then that is what we will do.
“But at the moment we have got so much going on, trying to get players in, get players out, it’s just pretty hectic. We are working at it, but sometimes it’s best just to stay quiet.”
The Owls travel to MK Dons tonight for their FA Cup third-round replay, with Jones expecting another fierce battle after a 0-0 draw at Hillsborough 10 days ago.
The winner travels to a Premier League side in the fourth round, in either QPR or West Brom, and Jones expects to make several changes from the team which won 3-1 at Hull City on Saturday.
“MK Dons are a good side, a good footballing side who are doing well in their division,” he said.
“We expected a tough game at Hillsborough and that’s what we got. We don’t expect anything different (tonight).
“They are on their home patch, and will be expecting to go through. We want to go down there and disappoint them, hopefully.”
Wednesday will be without Helan (cup tied) and David Prutton (suspended) and also have a lengthy list of injury niggles.
“It would be easier to tell you who is fit than not, at the moment,” added Jones.
One player likely to start tonight is Kieran Lee, who says the players are excited about the possibility of facing Premier League opposition in the next round.
“First of all we have to beat MK, but looking ahead we would be playing a Premier League team in the next round and some of the lads have never done that before,” said the 24-year-old right-back, who has excelled in the last month playing in midfield. “Everyone’s looking forward to it.
“Last year I played for Oldham against Liverpool, and as a player you enjoy it, it’s the type of game you can look forward to. It’s an incentive for everyone.
“Personally I would have liked Manchester United, I don’t know about the other lads,” added the former Old Trafford youngster. “But this is a tough draw and we are happy with it.”
Last six games: MK Dons WLLWDD Sheff Weds WWDLDW.
Last time: MK Dons 1 Sheff Weds 1; January 31, 2012; League One.
Referee: L Collins (Surrey).