Kilkenny in contention after return to Leeds United

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LEEDS United go into Saturday’s home Npower Championship game with Coventry City with their squad boosted by the return of midfielder Neil Kilkenny (pictured), but surprisingly without any other permanent additions during the last week of the transfer window.

After the transfer window closed on Monday night Leeds were actually left with a much thinner squad following the departure of several fringe players and no first teamers brought in on permanent contracts since Andy O’Brien at the start of the month.

But with “emergency” loan signings still able to be made for a limited period from now until the end of the season there is still scope to improve things and it seems this is the route manager Simon Grayson has chosen to deal with any shortcomings that may arise.

He brought goalkeeper David Gonzalez in on loan from Manchester City in his only signing on the last day of the transfer window after paying up Scotland under 21 international Alan Martin.

Centre-half Neill Collins, meanwhile, was allowed to leave for Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee on Monday, left-back Fede Bessone joined Charlton on loan for the rest of the season and right-back Jason Crowe had his contract cancelled by mutual consent. With these moves coming on top of the departure of Andrew Hughes and Lubomir Michalik it has left the Whites suddenly with little back-up in defence.

Up front they remain strong, but they still look at least a player short in midfield, although the return of Kilkenny from international duty will help give options and it is a case of as you were from the start of the month with Bradley Johnson remaining at the club despite being on the transfer list.

Kilkenny arrived back in England on Monday after helping Australia reach the Asia Cup final and went straight back into the first team squad for the trip to Hull City on Tuesday night.

He is out of contract at the end of the season, but while away has declared again his desire to agree a new deal to stay at Elland Road with talks expected to pick back up quickly on his return to England.

Kilkenny was an unused substitute at the KC Stadium, but is likely to start against Coventry at Elland Road on Saturday if the manager reverts to his three-man midfield after playing two out and out strikers against Hull.

One of those forwards, Davide Somma, made it hard for Grayson to drop him, however, after netting United’s equaliser in their 2-2 draw to take his tally up to 10 goals for the season.

Leeds now face a Coventry side with designs on a play-off place themselves, although the Sky Blues currently stand in a mid-table position with a lack of goals holding them back as they have only found the net 33 times in their first 29 league games, compared to United’s 54 goals from the same number of games.

City do have a couple of ex-Leeds loanees in their forward line, however, with Marlon King back among the goals recently and Gary McSheffrey enjoying a much more successful campaign than last term.

The latter was unhappy that United did not follow-up his loan spell with a bid for a permanent transfer last summer and after failing to find his best form at Elland Road he will clearly be keen to make an impression and has every incentive to put one over the club he was at 12 months ago.

Coventry manager Aidy Boothroyd is another ex-Leeds employee with an extra desire to do well and the Whites can expect a competitive game from start to finish.