Leeds United remain locked in contract talks with Pablo Hernandez with the club hopeful of preventing the midfielder’s departure at the end of this season.
United continue to discuss an extension to Hernandez’s deal and look set on meeting his demands after another goal over the weekend reiterated his value to the squad at Elland Road.
Hernandez’s ninth goal of the campaign in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland extended an influential run of form that looks likely to earn him the club’s player-of-the-year award.
Leeds have struggled through the second half of this season, but the former Swansea City and Villarreal player has produced three strikes and four assists in his last nine appearances.
Hernandez’s existing agreement – a 12-month deal signed last summer – runs out at the end of June, a situation which could effectively make the 32-year-old a free agent after the next five games.
Leeds opened talks with him three weeks ago after head coach Paul Heckingbottom told the club that Hernandez would be part of his plans for next season.
Hernandez could take the captain’s armband for tonight’s Championship game at Preston North End with club captain Liam Cooper injured and full-back Gaetano Berardi beginning a five-match ban.
Berardi, who led Leeds on Saturday, was sent off for the third time in six months, against Sunderland, and the Football Association confirmed the length of his suspension yesterday, ending his campaign.
Young defender Paudie O’Connor, who made his debut against Sunderland, is set to retain his place at Deepdale this evening.