By Josh Grainger
Brian McDermott's pursuit of out of contract Reading striker Noel Hunt is as good as complete we are lead to believe. Within weeks of McDermott's appointment in Yorkshire, Hunt's name was one of the most frequent being linked with the club, a rumour that has continued to gather momentum since. Hunt, 30, was offered a new one year deal shortly before the end of last season by relegated Reading, however the Ireland international rejected the move as he wanted a lengthier contract meaning security for him and his family.
Reading boss Nigel Adkins has told Hunt that he is free to leave the club he has been with since 2008 and it is expected that he will shortly be reunited with his former manager Brian McDermott, at Elland Road. Because Hunt's contract does not expire until the 1st of next month, he cannot be officially unveiled as a Leeds player until then, however similarly to Matt Smith, the agreement would usually be confirmed by the clubs before then. It is believed that the reason for the delay in the announcement, is because of the striker's up and coming wedding, of which McDermott will be in attendance. Understandably, Hunt does not want the attention of his personal life to be dominated by transfer news and therefore it is believed that the signing of Noel Hunt by Leeds, will be announced shortly after he is wedded.
Hours after the club announced the signing of former Oldham striker, Matt Smith, Brian McDermott told the press that he had a "verbal agreement" to sign a player and to him that meant the deal was done. It is understood that the player being referred to is Noel Hunt. This would make sense as some thought it surprising that McDermott was placing such trust and confidence in an "unofficial" agreement, having worked with the striker for a number of years, this trust is more believable. Leeds' championship rivals Millwall were also understood to have made an approach for Hunt however new Millwall manager, Steve Lomas claimed the player had already agreed a deal with another club, Leeds.
A few days ago, the Daily Mail claimed Brian McDermott was also interested in bringing Noel's brother Stephen Hunt to the club. The Wolves winger, is said to be for sale at Wolves, however since then local press in Leeds have rubbished the rumours.
Earlier today, the Peterborough Telegraph published a story that claimed Leeds had made an approach for the League One side's captain, Tommy Rowe, however chairman Barry Fry had told Leeds he would be too expensive for them, as he had already rejected £20k a week deals from other clubs. Since then however, it has emerged that the move could be a lot more likely than earlier reports would have you expect. Within the last few hours Fry had told BBC Leeds that Brian McDermott has been in contact with Rowe and his agent and is keen to bring the former Stockport man to Elland Road, before adding that there is "willingness" from the player to join Leeds. Fry reiterated that until Leeds agreed a suitable transfer deal with Peterborough, Rowe would not be moving. The 24 year old, who preferably plays out wide but can also do a job in the centre of midfield has one year left on his current deal at London Road and has rejected Peterborough's offers of a new deal. With only a year remaining on his contract, Leeds could well bring Rowe in for a lower price than his value, it is thought that Peterborough would be willing to accept a fee of around £800k.
Whilst these rumours may not be enough to get Leeds fans jumping with excitement, one slightly bigger name being linked with the club this morning, is former England defender Matthew Upson. Upson, 34, is out of contract with Stoke City and spent the end of last season on loan with Brighton and Hove Albion. It was expected that Brighton would make an offer for Upson, however with manager Gus Poyet currently suspended after an argument with the board, the move may no longer be possible. The Yorkshire Post this morning revealed that McDermott was interested in bringing Upson to West Yorkshire, however the centre back's wage demands could prove to be too much for Leeds. Should McDermott choose not to go for Upson, Matt Mills could be high on his shortlist, McDermott's captain at Reading is on the transfer list at Bolton, Dougie Freedman is understood to be asking for around £1m for the 25 year old.
In regard to players leaving Elland Road it seems to be rather quiet. Sam Byram has attracted a lot of premier league interest after a superb first season, however the teenager was forced to withdraw from the England under 20 world cup squad, due to a recurrence of a hip problem that kept him out of Leeds' last two games of last season. It is expected that Byram will be fit for the majority of pre-season, however this injury could be a blessing in disguise, shielding the player from the premier league scouts heading out to Turkey for the world cup.