FORMER Leeds United boss Neil Redfearn says his old club could be challenging for a place in the Premier by May – if they can turn loans into permanent deals.
Redfearn’s seven-year-stint, which began and ended with the club’s Academy and featured 42 games in charge of the first team, ended in July 2015.
But he has no sour grapes and only wants to see his former side succeed.
The 51-year-old hopes to return to management in the not too distant future, and is currently watching the Whites at home and away for Radio Yorkhsire.
Redfearn has watched on as Leeds have gathered 22 points from their last possible 30, form that has propelled them to sixth in the Championship table. Leeds are now in the play-offs for the first time since December 2013.
United crumbled to finish 15th in that season, but Redfearn has reasons to believe that this year’s play-off position is here to stay – if Leeds can wrap up the likes of loan stars Pontus Jansson, Kyle Bartley, Hadi Sacko and Pablo Hernandez on permanent deals.
He said: “The only drawbacks with loans I suppose is that once they are playing in your first team, they are in the shop window.
“I would imagine there would be clubs looking in and probably top-flight clubs thinking ‘that could do for us’.
“I don’t know the agreements that Leeds have got with the clubs – whether they have got first choice – but that will be an important process because Garry (Monk) has really built the team as such.
“You can roughly work out basically nine or 10 of the XI that are going to start every week, apart from the odd change, and he is not frightened of making the odd change. But the big test is keeping that group together if they can and, sort of, letting it develop.
“And I think what they have got to try and do is to try and nail that side down.
“That means getting your loan signings done and making sure that they are Leeds players because what you don’t want to do is to get a situation where you have got to start again, recruiting another centre-half or whatever.
“If you look at the current form, Leeds must be near the top of the current form guide.
“There can’t be many doing better than them – and Newcastle – so I think if they can steer clear of injuries and suspensions and keep a settled side out then there’s no reason why they can’t get in the play-offs.”
Saturday’s 3-2 victory at Carrow Road was responsible for putting Leeds into the play-offs, for the first time since Boxing Day 2013.
Redfearn said: “It’s like anything and anybody who is doing well and anybody who is being successful there will be people looking in and being interested.
“And, to be fair to Garry and what he has done, all along he has got his head down and cracked on with it. He seems like he is enjoying himself and the players and the staff and everybody, they all seem really together.
“Sometimes that can be worth more than anything, being in and around the right environment that you enjoy and that you love working in.
“I’m pretty sure that Garry is ambitious and he will want the best he can and hopefully that can be to the benefit of Leeds United. Hopefully he can take Leeds United with him.”