Setback on Jerome has Leeds in search of alternative

LEEDS UNITED are set to turn their attentions elsewhere after being rebuffed in an attempt to sign Stoke City striker Cameron Jerome on loan.

The Huddersfield-born frontman appeared to be heading to Elland Road last Thursday only for Potters manager Tony Pulis to perform a U-turn.

Sources in Stoke suggest Michael Owen’s fitness is the stumbling block. The one-time England striker unlikely to be available until after the loan window closes next week due to a hamstring strain.

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The news has come as a big blow to manager Neil Warnock, who had believed the striker would join in time to face Watford last weekend.

In his absence, Leeds crashed to a 6-1 defeat as Jason Pearce was sent off and midfielder Rodolph Austin stretchered off with a suspected broken leg.

Austin’s leg is still swollen, meaning a scan is unlikely to take place until today. But there is cautious optimism within Elland Road that the Jamaican may not have suffered a break after all.

Leeds are also hoping for some positive news over Pearce after lodging an appeal against the red card – brandished for an ugly challenge on Hornets’ goalscorer Matej Vydra – and the defender’s subsequent three-game ban.

A verdict is due in the next 24 hours with the risk being that any ban could be increased if the appeal fails.

Meanwhile, GFH Capital – the firm intent on taking charge of United – remain confident of pushing a deal through after shrugging aside speculation regarding a rival bidder.

Reports over the weekend suggested that US businessman Preston Haskell offered an alternative option for the sale of the Championship club.

Haskell, who until recently owned a minority stake in the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise with his family, was said to be keen to hand Warnock a £10m transfer kitty in an attempt to get United’s floundering promotion challenge back on track.

However, sources close to GFH remain confident their bid remains on track and that a successful conclusion can be achieved in the very near future.

GFH Capital’s deputy chief executive David Haigh and the firm’s lawyers are understood to still be in talks with United over a deal that was first mooted several months ago.

On the subject of the bid, GFH Capital director and chief investment officer Salem Patel, tweeted yesterday: “As I’m sure you can imagine, last few days have been busy to say the least. All messages are appreciated. Can’t say anymore than that.”