JEROME Thomas admitted today that he had little expectation of returning to Leeds United after vowing to win a new contract at West Bromwich Albion before the end of the season.
Thomas poured cold water on talk of another loan move to Elland Road as West Brom faced up to a growing shortage of players in his position.
The Premier League club are set to ignore interest in their 29-year-old winger after ruling Zoltan Gera out for the rest of the season with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament, and Thomas said he wanted to remain at The Hawthorns and fight for an extended deal having finished 2012 on loan at Leeds.
United signed the former Arsenal trainee on the last day of the emergency loan window and Thomas played six times, scoring once, before his loan expired after their 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on New Year’s Day.
Thomas missed that game due to a virus but Leeds manager Neil Warnock hoped to bring him back to Elland Road during the January transfer window and named him as a key target in discussions with United’s new owners, GFH Capital.
West Brom boss Steve Clarke, however, fielded Thomas in an FA Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday – his first appearance of the season for Albion – and Clarke is increasingly reluctant to lose the winger after discovering the severity of Gera’s injury yesterday.
Asked if he had hoped to renew his loan at Elland Road, Thomas, whose contract with Albion runs until the summer, said: “It was never an option to extend really. It was just a case of going out and getting some games.
“I’m fully focused on West Brom, 100 per cent. Whatever interest there is has to go through the right avenues before it comes to me but until I hear anything my focus is on West Brom.
“I’ve still got another six months on my contract and that’s a chance for me to help the club push on. I’m happy here, I’ve been happy playing here for a few years now and I have no plans to move on. Hopefully I can get something resolved.”
Warnock credited Thomas and fellow loan signing Alan Tate, both of whom joined Leeds on November 22, as the inspiration behind United’s run of five wins from six league games prior to Christmas.
Tate’s loan from Swansea City has been extended until the end of this month with a view to a deal which runs to the end of the season but Thomas appeared more resistant to the idea of another spell away from West Brom.
“Maybe now this is my chance to show the gaffer and the management what I can do,” he said.
Warnock initially cast doubt on the likelihood of Thomas’ return on New Year’s Day when he said: “We aren’t too far away but one or two other clubs are sniffing at him.”
Leeds, meanwhile, have extended midfielder Zac Thompson’s loan at League One club Bury until the end of the season.
The 20-year-old has been at Gigg Lane on a temporary basis since the middle of October and has played 17 times for a side who are one place above the foot of their division.
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