Michael Tonge in match action.
By Phil Hay
Published on Wednesday 12 September 2012 07:26
Michael Tonge has emerged as another of Neil Warnock’s targets amid on-going efforts to bring a new midfielder to Leeds United.
Tonge could be set for a reunion with Warnock – a manager he played under for seven years at Sheffield United – after Stoke City deemed the 29-year-old surplus to requirements for the first half of their Premier League season.
The YEP understands that Leeds have been in contact with Stoke in the days since Tonge was left out of their 25-man squad and a source close to the player claimed a loan deal with United was possible before the club resume their Championship term away to Cardiff City this weekend.
Warnock has been assessing a number of different options since injuries to David Norris and Michael Brown left him critically short of central midfielders, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermaine Jenas is also on his radar despite Spurs including him in their own 25-man squad.
Jenas is not expected to feature prominently at White Hart Lane in the near future and the North London club are willing to send the England international out on a 93-day emergency loan.
But Tonge is likely to be a more affordable answer to the selection crisis caused at Elland Road by Norris’ torn thigh muscle and Brown’s hamstring strain.
Leeds were already without Paul Green, who damaged a knee last month, and the club do not expect Jamaican Rodolph Austin to return from international duty until 24 hours before their meeting with Cardiff. At present, Warnock’s only midfield alternatives are transfer-listed Danny Pugh and youngster Zac Thompson.
Tonge enjoyed the best years of his career under Warnock at Bramall Lane, playing more than 300 times for Sheffield United and winning promotion from the Championship in 2006.
Stoke paid £2million to sign the attacking midfielder two years later but he has made only one league start in four years at the Britannia Stadium.
He finished last term with a half-season loan at Barnsley.
Warnock underlined the importance of his search yesterday, saying: “We’re looking all over for a midfield player to join us before the weekend.
“We’ve asked about a couple of midfield players and we should know soon because we need someone in there. We’re looking at what there is around.
“Rodolph Austin is also away this week and will have had two games to play, so we’re hoping he comes back okay. He won’t be back until Friday and it is horrific when they have all that travelling to do.”
The Football League’s emergency loan window opened last Friday night and clubs beneath the Premier League are free to sign players for a maximum of 93 days under the rules of their governing body.
United are continuing to analyse Brown’s fitness but Norris and Green are both expected to be missing until next month.
leon wobschall ?@LeonWobYEP
Definite interest from #lufc in Jenas. Sounds like #thfc keener on 93 day loan. Something shorter may suit Leeds more. #YEPLeeds
Phil Hay ?@PhilHayYEP
If nothing else, it's clear enough that certain people are still trying to push this deal forward.
2h Phil Hay Phil Hay ?@PhilHayYEP
Contact optimistic but won't speculate that takeover might complete next week. Says situation "is too unpredictable to assume that." #lufc
2h Phil Hay Phil Hay ?@PhilHayYEP
Brief takeover update: contact of mine says tonight that "significant progress" on #lufc takeover expected next week.