Steve Evans has confirmed that Leeds United and Sam Byram are back in talks about the defender’s contract - and warned Byram that he cannot expect to feature heavily at Elland Road unless he signs a new deal.
Evans said he had moved to “bring those parties to the table” after involving himself in the contractual dispute which has been hanging over Byram for the past 12 months.
United’s former player-of-the-year has been at odds with Leeds owner Massimo Cellino since talks about an extension to his existing agreement broke down in late 2014.
Byram, who is out of contract at the end of this season, rejected an offer from Cellino which would have reduced his weekly wage – believed to be worth around £12,000 – in return for a long-term deal.
Negotiations restarted briefly in August but came to nothing and the 22-year-old right-back struggled for form during Uwe Rosler’s short reign as head coach at the beginning of this season.
Evans has used Byram three times since his appointment as Rosler’s replacement last month but admitted after a recent 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town that he needed to clarify Byram’s intentions and establish whether the academy product planned to move on next summer.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Rotherham United, a game in which Byram is likely to be named as a substitute, Evans said: “I think Sam’s agent and the people at the club who get involved in these matters are talking. We’ll see where that goes.
“All I can do is bring those parties to the table but as I’ve said to Sam, and I’ll repeat my words, he has to be committed to the football club. How he gets committed to the football club can only be a contract extension. He has to do that because I only want players here who are here for a period of time.
“I have to believe the president (Cellino) when he tells me that I’m here for a period of time. If that’s true, which I believe it will be, then I have to say to Sam that if you want to be a big part of this going forward, you have to be committed. The other outstanding youngsters are.”
The dispute between Leeds and Byram’s camp spilled over three months ago when Cellino accused the defender of thinking United were “not big enough for him.”
Asked if a refusal by Byram to accept a new contract would lead Evans to limit the player’s involvement in the rest of the Championship term, Evans said: “I don’t man-manage individuals players or the dressing room like that. There would be several stages before that happened and that would be me sitting down with him on my own on a number of occasions.
“Sometimes in football a lot of people think the grass is greener. I look at Leeds United and I really struggle to understand where any young players would get a bigger stage than playing at Elland Road every second week. Most away games feel like a home game.
“This is a huge football club. You shouldn’t allow any issues to stop you being here. There’ll be a lot of conversations around that. He knows I need him to be a part of it. I don’t have these issues with the like of (Alex) Mowatt and (Lewis) Cook and Charlie Taylor.”