LEEDS UNITED’S hopes of signing striking target Dexter Blackstock have suffered a knock-back with new Nottingham Forest boss Alex McLeish revealing his desire to keep him.
The future of Blackstock – who has only six months left on his City Ground contract – is currently up in the air, with the 26-year-old yet to hear from club officials regarding a new deal.
United are one of several clubs interested in the forward, who has yet to open talks about a new contract – and is able to speak to other clubs.
But on Blackstock, who netted for Forest in their 4-2 win over United on Boxing Day, McLeish said: “There is all sorts of speculation, but we are not planning to let Dexter go.
“He is out of contract in the summer and you never know what will happen.
“We also have to see what resources we have available to bring players in.
“But I would hope that Dexter would want to stay the course with us.
“I realise he probably wants a new contract. These are things we have to weigh up. I am just walking in through the door and I am starting to realise that we have to make some big decisions very quickly.”
Boss Neil Warnock has spoken about January being a critical time for United and is desperate to bring in some new recruits to help instigate a concerted play-offs push.
Bringing in an additional forward to supplement his attacking options remains high on his wish-list after missing out on signing West Brom’s Chris Wood.
United switch emphasis to the FA Cup tomorrow at home to Birmingham City, with several players and staff members still struggling with the virus which affected a number ahead of the Bolton Wanderers game on New Year’s Day.
Warnock himself is currently feeling under the weather with he and other affected parties staying away from training yesterday – with his presence in the dug-out even in question for tomorrow’s game.
On the virus problems, assistant-boss Mick Jones said: “It’s not good, there’s no point in hiding from it. We’ve all known about it sweeping around the country.
“There was a bit before Christmas and it seemed to ease off, but the lads we sent home last week were quite ill and I know the manager is as well.
“It sounds like a similar sort of thing to what Brendan Rodgers had at Liverpool when he stayed away from the players, and ironically they turned in a great performance and won. We have to keep an eye on everyone and we trained well on Thursday. We’ve asked the lads with a virus to stay away, but hopefully we’ll have a team good enough for Saturday. We would make changes Saturday anyway, but the players who will come in are good squad players and I would expect a good performance.”
Meanwhile, Jones says Patrick Kisnorbo’s move to Ipswich Town on a month’s loan represents a “good opportunity” for the out-of-favour defender, who has featured just once for United this term.
On Kisnorbo, who has been given permission to play in Town’s cup clash at Aston Villa tomorrow, Jones added: “His chances have been limited. He’s struggled a wee bit to get over that injury and this is a good opportunity for him, and also good for us.
“There’s no hiding from the situation that we need to see him play at this level and we’ve not been able to do that.”
Elsewhere in the Championship, Nathaniel Chalobah has extended his loan stay with Watford until the end of the season.
The Chelsea midfielder, 18, arrived at Vicarage Road in August and has been an integral part of the club’s promotion push, making a total of 18 appearances.
Chalobah, an England Under-21 international, will now complete the season with the Hornets after they agreed an extension with the European champions.
Manager Gianfranco Zola said: “It’s great news for us. He has become an important player for us since he came to the club.
“His performances have been getting better and better so we are delighted that Chelsea have decided to leave him here.”
Nottingham Forest have also completed the signing of Derry City winger Stephen McLaughlin for an undisclosed fee.
McLaughlin caught the eye of Reds scouts with a string of good performances in the League of Ireland and the 22-year-old impressed even further last month during a trial at the City Ground.