NEW Leeds United director Salem Patel has revealed plans to strengthen Neil Warnock’s squad in January are already under way.
The 64-year-old, seen as such a key part of the club’s future that him staying on as manager was made a condition of the takeover going through, wants to tie down the long-term futures of loanees Michael Tonge, Alan Tate and Jerome Thomas.
Tonge is due to play his last game for United today before returning to Stoke City, while Swansea’s Tate and Thomas of West Brom are both contracted to the Elland Road club until January 2.
Warnock is keen to keep all three players and has already stated that if United can achieve that then he will need just one other addition, a striker, when the transfer window opens.
Patel said: “The (January) transfer window opens and, as we all know, it is not a great time to do business.
“Thankfully for us, we have already got quite a good squad and a few players coming back from injuries.
“Neil has already stated publicly what he wants. We are going to try our best to help him achieve that.
“Shaun (Harvey, chief executive) is conducting negotiations as we speak. Thomas and Tate are two key players now for Leeds and we really hope to keep them.
“Tonge, again, is someone we hope to keep. But if you are asking me how much money we are going to spend in January, unfortunately we are not going to be able to answer that.”
Patel and David Haigh both travelled to Thorp Arch straight after yesterday’s press conference to meet the players. They are also understood to have spoken to Warnock about the club’s transfer strategy once the window reopens on January 1.
Haigh added: “Neil was a very important part of our deal and it was actually a term of our contract that he remained. That is how much we rate Neil Warnock.”
Leeds have made 15 signings since the end of last season and also agreed new, extended contracts with Aidy White, Ross McCormack, Tom Lees and Sam Byram.
On the hunt to bolster further the United squad, chief executive Harvey added: “Neil is pretty clear in what it is he is seeking. That always helps.
“There is nothing worse than a ‘maybe’. We know what we have got to try and deliver.
“Neil did ring me and say, ‘When can we have the conversation about January, Shaun?’ Like all managers, Neil will roll with what is going on and concentrate on the job he has, which is to achieve what all of us want – to try and get promoted.
“Having just invested in the club – and without making radical statements – it should be consistent that we are going to try and help him as far as we can to get the club promoted.
“We are keen to carry on what we are doing. We have won four out of the last five league games so the formula would appear to be working.”
Meanwhile, the new owners insist no decision has been made on who will succeed Ken Bates as chairman come the summer despite speculation that Haigh would step up into the role.