Celtic deny move for Leeds prospect Tom Lees

GLASGOW giants Celtic have dismissed reports suggesting they are lining up a move for Leeds United defender Tom Lees.

The Hoops were linked with a move for the 22-year-old yesterday, with the Glasgow outfit said to be leading the chase for the highly-rated stopper – with Aston Villa, QPR, Wigan Athletic and Cardiff City also reportedly monitoring the situation.

But according to sources north of the border, Celtic – who are close to finalising a move for Israel defender Rami Gershon – have no plans to make a move for Lees.

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United are not likely to welcome any serious moves from any clubs regarding Lees, rated highly by boss Neil Warnock, who has likened him in terms of potential to England and Everton defender Phil Jagielka, who blossomed under his guidance at Sheffield United a decade ago.

Lees only signed a long-term deal with United, contracting him with the club until 2016, at the end of May and he remains very much a part of Warnock’s plans at Elland Road.

United’s link with long-term target Clint Hill resurfaced yesterday, although it is unlikely that Queens Park Rangers will do any business this month - with the summer a more likely time.

With Ryan Nelsen tipped to move to America and a player-coaching role at DC United, Rangers boss Harry Redknapp is wary of being short of central defensive cover, with skipper Hill having also been a regular in his plans – while being massively popular with R’s supporters.

Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion assistant head coach Kevin Keen says he expects Jerome Thomas to play a part at the Hawthorns in the coming months following his return to the club from Leeds, where he spent a loan spell.

Thomas, out of contract in the summer, is currently back in the Midlands waiting to see where his future lies, with weekend injuries sustained by Zoltan Gera and Marc Antoine-Fortune potentially offering him a route back into boss Steve Clarke’s plans.

Albion are anxiously waiting for news regarding the pair, who suffered knee and hamstring injuries respectively in the club’s weekend cup draw at QPR, especially regarding Hungarian international Gera, sidelined for six months with a knee problem last term.

The duo’s injuries enabled Thomas to make his first appearance for Albion this season on Saturday, when he came on as a sub for Fortune just after the interval.

On Thomas, whose agent Tony Finnigan confirmed yesterday that he has not heard from United regarding a renewed move for winger in the past seven days, Keen said: “Jerome is a top player and has got some fantastic ability. We sent him away to get fit, he’s got fit and he’s come back and is ready to play.

“What happens in the future will be up to Jerome and up to (head coach) Steve Clarke and we will just have to go from there.

“But he is a super player, he has done well in the past and I’m sure he can do well for us in the coming months.”

National reports circulating that United have made a bid of £750,000 for Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock are understood to be inaccurate, with the club having not yet made a bid for the 26-year-old, despite interest.

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