Leeds United: Dual interest in Byram fails to deflect Hockaday’s focus

Leeds United's 'Sam Byram (Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe).
Leeds United's 'Sam Byram (Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe).
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THE interest in Sam Byram may be growing with Sunderland joining Southampton in pursuit of the Leeds United full-back, but for head coach David Hockaday it is potential additions that are uppermost in his mind.

United started the season in disappointing fashion with a 2-0 opening-day defeat at Millwall.

It was clear at The Den that Leeds, who turned down a bid believed to be in the region of £4.5m for Byram over the weekend, need more quality and The Yorkshire Post understands a move to bring central defender Giuseppe Bellusci to the Championship has been revived.

Supporters will be hoping that the powerfully-built 24-year-old Catania defender can be the first of several new arrivals brought in by owner Massimo Cellino and sporting director Nicholas Salerno.

Hockaday said: “The president (Cellino) and myself have chatted, and we both know that we need to strengthen and we agree on this.

“That is what we are working on, but it is not as easy as people think.

“We don’t want to panic and bring players in just for the sake of bringing them in and we won’t be held to ransom. We need to make sure we get the right players in, but there will be additions and, in the next few weeks, there will be new faces at Elland Road.”

Ahead of back-to-back home games in the Championship against Middlesbrough and Brighton in the coming week, Leeds have a golden chance tonight to get their season up and running when Accrington Stanley visit in the Capital One Cup.

The Lancashire club just avoided relegation from the Football League last season and began this term with a home defeat to Southend United.

Hockaday may make personnel changes, though it is expected Byram will feature despite being the subject of a bid from Southampton over the weekend.

United rebuffed the offer amid suggestions that the club value the 20-year-old at almost double what Saints had offered.

Ronald Koeman, the St Mary’s manager, has not revealed if his club are willing to return with another bid.

He said: “He (Byram) was a player we had on the list and it is true that we had a bid for him, yes. What I heard was that Leeds didn’t accept it.”

Sunderland are also understood to be keen on Byram, with manager Gus Poyet keen to bring in a full-back before the end of the transfer window due to having only Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt as specialists in the role.

Last six games: Leeds United WWLWDL, Accrington Stanley DDLWWL.

Last time: Leeds United 2 Accrington Stanley 0; December 15, 2009; Football League Trophy.

Referee: R Clark (Northumberland).