Mystery over Kenny’s absence from Leeds squad - agents say he’s fit after all

Paddy Kenny.
Paddy Kenny.
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PADDY Kenny’s agents have placed a question mark over his continuing absence from Leeds United’s matchday squads by claiming the goalkeeper is fit for selection and intent on seeing out the last year of his contract at Elland Road.

A statement issued on Kenny’s behalf by First E11even Sport Management said he was “fully recovered” from the ankle injury which cost him a place in United’s line-up and had been “training hard over the last few weeks” in an attempt to force his way back into contention.

Kenny has not played for two months after succumbing to an injury he originally suffered around Christmas and subsequently carried through January and most of February in the absence of experienced cover at Leeds United.

McDermott eventually withdrew him after signing Jack Butland on loan from Stoke City before their goalless draw at Middlesbrough on February 22, and the England international has started every game since.

Butland is expected to start at Birmingham City on Saturday and again at home to Derby County next weekend, United’s last game of the season and the final match of his loan from Stoke.

Kenny was always likely to face a fight to oust Butland from Brian McDermott’s side once he recovered from injury but the 35-year-old has been conspicuous by his recent absence from the bench, omitted in favour of Alex Cairns despite appearing to be available.

Cairns has been United’s second choice throughout this season but McDermott chose to ask Kenny to play through an ankle injury in the weeks after Christmas, rather than gamble on his inexperienced academy graduate.

Kenny is rumoured to be considering his future with the summer transfer window about to open but the firm representing him moved to clarify his position, saying Kenny wanted to stay at Leeds for the final 12 months of his three-year contract.

A statement from First E11even Sports Management said: “As Paddy’s management company, we thought it timely to issue an update on our client in response to a number of enquiries we have received from the media and Leeds United supporters.

“Having fully recovered from an injury that he played with for several games until cover came in, Paddy has been training hard over the last few weeks to ensure he’s doing all he can to reclaim his position as first-choice goalkeeper at Leeds.

“Paddy has really enjoyed his time at the club, especially the relationship with the supporters. Having 75 first-team appearances and with another year left on his contract, he’s hoping he’ll have the chance to add to that total in the future.”

Kenny is likely to be the only under-contract keeper left at Leeds when the Championship season ends.

Cairns and Jamie Ashdown - a player whose second year with United has been wrecked by injury - are expected to move on after their contracts expire on June 30, and Butland is due to return to Stoke City at the end of his loan.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game at Birmingham, McDermott said the possibility of a fresh approach for Butland was still to considered.

“Jack will go back to Stoke and we’ll assess everything in the summer,” he said.

“The owner (Massimo Cellino) prefers - and I prefer - to get permanent signings rather than loan players. You can get a loan player but with a view to signing them at the end of that deal. That’s the ideal scenario.”

Kenny was ever-present for Leeds until he hurt his ankle in the opening seconds of a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest on December 29.

He coped with the injury for a further eight games until Leeds moved to sign Butland after a 1-0 defeat at Brighton.

McDermott admitted that Kenny was fit and available prior to United’s recent Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers at Elland Road, though the ex-Sheffield United keeper suffered a minor knee problem the following week.

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