BRIAN MCDERMOTT insists talk of Ross McCormack moving to Middlesbrough is a “non-story” amid suggestions on Teesside that the Championship club are considering a second, improved offer for the Leeds United striker.
The Scottish international is in demand with Blackpool having had an offer rejected by the Elland Road outfit on the eve of the new season.
Boro were given the same response when tabling a £1m bid earlier this week, though sources suggest manager Tony Mowbray is ready to return with a second attempt to prise McCormack away from Leeds.
Despite that, McDermott said: “We have had nothing in the last couple of days. We had offers for Ross but I spoke to him about it and we put it to bed between us. It is a non-story as far as I am concerned.
“If the player wants to go then you have got a different scenario. It can be a very difficult situation when you have got a player who has made a big statement and wants to leave.
“The fans are never going to be the same with that particular player. I am not talking (Luis) Suarez, I am talking about any player. If a player makes a statement that he wants to leave and he is public with that, there aren’t too many places you can go with that.”
McCormack is expected to return to the Leeds starting XI tomorrow afternoon when McDermott’s men take on Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium in front of the live Sky cameras.
He was rested in midweek along with several other players who started in the opening day win over Brighton & Hove Albion.
United are further boosted by the return of Rodolph Austin after a three-game ban with the Jamaican being tipped in some quarters to be named as McDermott’s permanent captain.
Another theory, however, is that the Leeds manager plans to hand the armband to his latest transfer target.
McDermott, for his part, is keeping quiet on the identity of who he wants to lead the side, though he does admit that hopes of snapping up his latest target are receding.
He said: “It is proving to be difficult that deal. At some point, one has to move on. But I haven’t yet, not completely.
“In this particular deal, it is a club to club issue. The club doesn’t want to sell the player and we were in a position where we thought the club would sell the player. The club are now saying they won’t.
“The player’s agent thought there was a situation where the player would be sold but that is not proving to be the case. I have known the agent for a number of years and it wasn’t anything like that. It is just that the club don’t want to do a deal.
“There is one that we are hoping to have discussions with in the next couple of days.”
On the subject of United’s next permanent captain, McDermott said: “I think it is important. It would be disrespectful to say that it isn’t important because if you are the captain of Leeds United then that does hold a certain status.
“I made a decision with Reading to make Jobi McAnuff captain which, at the time, was seen as different because he was a winger. But I knew what he offered in the dressing room. Different players offer different things, they captain in a different way.
“I know how good Jobi was in that dressing room and I know how he played. He led by example, even if he wasn’t having a great day. It is important to know what you are going to get from your captain.
“I remember Tony Adams at Arsenal. He never looked like he had a bad game because his body language was so good.”
Chairman Salah Nooruddin has increased his stake in the club to more than 10 per cent.
The Bahraini businessman, who replaced Ken Bates as chairman last month, initially bought a 3.3 per cent shareholding. His shares are controlled through a firm called Envest Limited that the United chief jointly owns with his wife.