Leeds wake up to future without Billy Sharp

Leeds United were weighing up the future of Billy Sharp last night after an approach for the striker from Ipswich Town raised the prospect of a second senior departure from Elland Road in the space of a week.
Billy Sharp. Picture by Simon HulmeBilly Sharp. Picture by Simon Hulme
Billy Sharp. Picture by Simon Hulme

Ipswich want to sign Sharp on loan for the rest of the Championship season with a view to a permanent move and had hoped to push through a deal in time for the striker to feature in their squad away at Millwall this afternoon.

The Suffolk club, who took forward Freddie Sears from Colchester United yesterday, have a major injury doubt over David McGoldrick and were looking to Sharp to partner Championship top-scorer Daryl Murphy at The Den.

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Leeds allowed former club captain Stephen Warnock to leave for Derby County on Thursday and the club are contemplating Sharp’s position with the forward struggling to make an impact at Elland Road.

United spent around £600,000 buying the 28-year-old out of his contract at Southampton in August but he has scored twice and made only eight league starts, his last against Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day.

That appearance ended in a show of frustration and dissent, with Sharp kicking a water bottle into the dug-out and walking straight down the tunnel after head coach Neil Redfearn substituted him 19 minutes from the end of a 2-0 defeat.

Redfearn refrained from criticising Sharp afterwards, saying: “I’ve done that myself in the past. I was far worse than Billy when I was a player. I was a nightmare.

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“He wants to play, he wants to start and I understand that. But looking at it from my side, it’s important that he understands it’s a team game.

“He’s part of a squad and sometimes you have to change things around to chase a game or do something different.

“I don’t have a problem with it. I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t disappointed about coming off. I don’t see it as a major issue.”

Sharp, however, has not started a first-team game since and he sat as an unused substitute through last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers.

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The former Sheffield United forward has 18 months left on the contract he signed in the summer and Ipswich, who lie third in the Championship, intend to take him on a temporary basis until the summer with a view to tying him down permanently then.

United themselves are yet to complete any new signings this month but they have sanctioned series of moves out of Elland Road since the start of the January transfer window with Warnock taking up an 18-month deal at Derby, Noel Hunt terminating his contract and moving to Ipswich and Nicky Ajose returning to Crewe Alexandra on loan.