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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


July 31: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been charged with "improper conduct" after claiming that Chelsea made an illegal bonus payment to their squad for getting past Arsenal in the 2004 Champions League. He's got until August 14 to put up or shut up. Of course, if he has solid evidence then that could have serious repercussions for Chelsea, who have got the FA and possibly FIFA bearing down on them after Uncle Ken took umbrage over the poaching of two Leeds Youth players earlier this year.

July 31: A barely-recognisable Leeds side, nominally described as the first team, drew 1-1 at Grimsby tonight in a testimonial for Graham Rodger. With Darren Ward replacing Neil Sullivan in goal and a whole host of triallists and youngsters on show, the main familiar faces were Frazer Richardson, Sean Gregan, Gylfi Einarsson, Ian Moore, Jermaine Beckford and Eddie Lewis. It was Lewis who bagged the equaliser for the visitors, striking 7 minutes after the break after Leeds conceded an early goal in the first half. Now the countdown to kick-off can really commence!

July 30: Triallist Hayden Foxe has returned to London for personal reasons but could still become a Leeds player after making some decent contributions to the pre-season games. Kevin Blackwell said: "Hopefully I shall be having a discussion with Hayden in the next couple of days. We're close. He's done some training with us and he's played some games and we'll have to see how his ankle reacts before we do anything." German defender Roland Benschneider will spend some more time on trial after arriving at Leeds last week having spent the last two years at FC Cologne. Meanwhile Foxe could have some familiar company if some rumours are to be believed: his former West Ham and Pompey team-mate Svetoslav Todorov is said to be the latest of Kev's transfer targets.

July 30: To not much surprise from Luton fans, Kevin Nicholls broke down in his very first training session at Leeds and could be out for some time after injuring his knee. He was due to have a scan today, and Kevin Blackwell said: "It looks quite serious. But we won't know any more until he has had the scan and we can give it a proper assessment." What is it about our signings that cause them to be so cursed?

July 29: Noel Whelan lasted just 4 minutes of his debut for Dunfermline - going off injured as he made his debut as the Pars got their SPL season underway against Hearts. Dunfermline boss Jim Leishman was desperate for players and admitted it had been a bit of a chance to take: "He knows himself he is not fit at the moment, but he's trained hard for a week and a bit."

July 29: Leeds grabbed a win at Forest this afternoon courtesy of a late og from Forest defender Wes Morgan. David Healy got things underway, slotting a Steve Stone pass home on 3 minutes. Forest hit back with a goal either side of half-time but Eirik Bakke scored from a free kick just shy of the hour mark, and Morgan's deflection with 8 minutes to go sealed the win for Kevin Blackwell's side. Eddie Lewis made his first appearance of the pre-season and Matthew Kilgallon played the first half after watching from the sidelines in most of the games so far - prompting rumours of his imminent departure. Triallist keeper Darren Ward was given all of 3 minutes at the end of the match, but youngsters Ian Morris and Rob Bayly both had a decent run out, with Jonathan Howson coming on as a late sub for Bakke.

July 28: Leeds' second string came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to record a 3-3 draw at Harrogate last night. The home side took the lead on 17 minutes, knocking home a penalty saved by Mark Wilberforce. They were 2-0 up within 5 minutes and took the lead into the break, but Jonathan Howson and Sam Hird equalised early in the second period. Harrogate again went in front with 5 minutes to go, but a cracker from Rob Bayly sealed the draw with the last kick of the game.

July 28: Sheffield United boss Neil "Colin" Warnock showed an admirable disregard for history and geography today, pointing to his capture of Ian Bennett and Rob Hulse and getting his team into the top flight indicating that the Blades were the top team in Yorkshire. But he said: "I don't think we are the only club in Yorkshire which is capable of spending money. If Ken Bates wanted to, I am sure Leeds could pay £2m for a player. What I am saying is that Sheffield United is now in the best position they have ever been in." Remembering that Yorkshire has rather more than just Leeds and Sheffield in it, he added: "I want to finish above Middlesbrough as well." However he's doing his very best to ensure that their stay in the top flight is temporary: he's chasing Brian Kidd to join the coaching staff. When Kidd took over those duties at ER, Leeds were in the Champions League semi-finals - within a couple of years his coaching had gone a long way to changing the high-paced, passing game put together by Eddie Gray and Paul Hart into a static relegation-bound disaster. If he manages to repeat the same feat at Bramall Lane, a trip around a few Conference grounds should be on the Blades fans' agenda in the very near future.

July 28: Carlisle United have turned down the chance to sign ex-Leeds youngster Nick Gray after the 19-year-old had a brief trial up there. Nick - son of Eddie - was released by Leeds this summer, and it was former Leeds coach Greg Abbott who recommended him, but Abbott said: "He did okay but at 19 we need someone who is good enough to be looking to step into the first team."

July 28: Young left back Ben Parker has gone on loan to Bradford for the first half of the season. The player went on the pre-season tour with the senior squad and had been given a squad number, but Kevin Blackwell wants him to be able to gain first-team experience on a regular basis and has even given the Bantams permission to play him in the Carling Cup.

July 28: As was indicated at the back end of last season, Joel Griffiths is set to leave after becoming dissatisfied with the lack of first team oppportunities at Elland Road. He's on the point of moving back home to Australia to join Newcastle Jets. Jets chief executive George Liolio said that Leeds had agreed in principle to release the former Newcas

July 27: Kevin Nicholls told Leeds fans that he hoped he was bringing his luck with him from Luton after leading thme to two promotions. He said: "Leeds are the biggest club in the division and despite their current status must still be among the top eight footballing giants in the country. The aim this season has to be to win the league - I think we can do that - and if not then gain promotion by hook or by crook. I've captained Luton to two promotions so maybe I'm a lucky omen." Nicholls grew up alongside Lee Bowyer and was at Charlton at the same time as the ex-Leeds star (sorry, I'm out of touch - how do we feel about him now? Ratboy or Hero?). Nicholls said: "I believe Lee played the best football of his career at Leeds and I'm certainly out to emulate him in that regard."

July 26: Kevin Nicholls has been confirmed as Kevin Blackwell's latest recruit after passing a medical and agreeing personal terms today. Kevin Blackwell said: "Kevin will bring extra fire to the midfield because he is that sort of character. He is, for me, a Leeds United player because we are traditionally respected for having a more than aggressive midfield. Kevin is in that mould and with him alongside Shaun Derry, I think we will be guaranteed a few fireworks." Meanwhile Ian Bennett is following Rob Hulse down the M1 to rejoin Sheffield United where he spent a 5-match loan spell at the end of 2004.

July 26: Despite rumours suggesting he would look for a club where he had a chance of getting a regular game, Scott Carson has signed a deal that will keep him at Anfield until 2011. Jermaine Pennant completed his switch from relegated Brum to Anfield, costing the princely sum of £6.7m. Not bad for a player who was drinking in the last chance saloon (hmmmm....) just a few months ago!

July 25: Kevin Blackwell's side slumped to a second defeat in succession in the pre-season campaign as they blew a 0-1 lead to lose 2-1. Robbie Blake gave Leeds the advantage 5 minutes before the break but within a minute old boy Andy Keogh helped set up Matthew Sparrow to equalise. Seven minutes after the restart, Billy Sharp scrambled the ball home from a corner and that was enough to seal the win. Kevin Blackwell gave 20-year-old French striker Garra Dembele the chance to impress in the second half, but otherwise it was close to a first-choice line-up on show and despite the fact that you can't read too much into such a game remains a little worrying with the season kick-off less than a fortnight away.

July 25: Robbie Elliott and Mark Fotheringham have been told there's no future for them at Leeds after a brief trial and appearance in the Hartlepool game. Garra Dembele has joined on trial from Auxerre: he's a 20-year-old striker, but I can't tell you much more than that!

July 24: The squad numbers for this season have been announced - and it's the gaps that might just give a clue as to future signings. Seb Carole takes the number 17 shirt vacated by Liam Miller, Dave Livermore gets number 4 and young defender Ben Parker is number 30. Vacant in the low numbers are 5 (Foxe?), 7 (Nicholls?) and 12 (Elliott?) - let's see who does end up filling them in the days to come.

July 24: After his close-season move to Southend and bagging a few goals in their pre-season, the Roots Hall faithful will have to wait a little longer to see Michael Ricketts earn his money for real. The striker has picked up an achilles injury and will miss a dream clash with Michael Duberry in their season opener against Stoke.

July 24: The recent signings have given rise to plenty of speculation as to who would be on the move in order to fund the new arrivals - well now we know. The club have accepted a bid of £2.2m for Rob Hulse from Sheffield United - twice what was paid for him a little over a year ago, and a fee which could reach £3m depending on the usual appearance and success criteria. Hulse scored 20 times in his 51 appearances for Leeds. Wonder if there are any more departures planned?

July 23: Leeds have agreed a fee with Luton for their captain Kevin Nicholls. The 27-year-old will cost us £700,000 and should be at Elland Road this week to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical. Not a bad return on their £25,000 investment when they signed him from Wigan four years and two promotions ago!

July 22: Hartlepool inflicted the first defeat of the pre-season on Kevin Blackwell's "first team" on Saturday afternoon. The home side were giving a testimonial to captain Micky Barron, and although the Testimonial Tradition of gifting the main man a goal wasn't followed, he did see team-mate James Brown score after 14 minutes and again 10 minutes into the second half before Steve Stone pulled a goal back for Leeds 5 minutes later. Dave Livermore made his debut for the Whites, and ex-Newcastle man Robbie Elliott played the whole game at left back as he looks for a new club having turned down a new deal at St James Park. Ex-Celtic youngster Mark Fotheringham also got over an hour to see if he could impress Kevin Blackwell enough to win a contract. Pools boss Danny Wilson was happy with the result - he said: "We showed great discipline as a team throughout the game and they didn't cause us many problems in front of goals. They did keep possession well, with Stone and Gary Kelly causing us a few problems but we coped well."

July 21: David Livermore was confirmed as a Leeds player on Friday after spending two days on a medical and agreeing personal terms. Millwall will get £400,000 for their player and Leeds get a versatile left-sided midfielder who can also play in central defence. Livermore said: "This is a huge club, this is where you want to be playing - at the right end of the division. I just want to be part of things here. Every player wants to play in the Premier League. That's the aim."

July 21: A strong reserve side won 4-1 at Darlington in Thursday night's pre-season friendly. Ian Bennett, Frazer Richardson, Hayden Foxe, Sean Gregan, Dan Harding, Gylfi Einarsson, Jermaine Beckford and Robbie Blake all on show. Gylfi Einarsson gave Leeds an early advantage with a close range shot on 17 minutes, but the home side equalised shortly after the break. Beckford grabbed a pair on 70 and 75 minutes before Hayden Foxe rose to nod in his first goal for the club with 2 minutes remaining.

July 19: A Leeds coach has ended up at Carlisle after all - but it's Academy coach Greg Abbott rather than John Carver. Former Bradford player Abbott has been with Leeds for 6 years in a variety of roles and now joins Carlisle as first team coach. He said: "I've loved every minute of my time at Leeds, but I want to test myself at senior level. I've enjoyed working with the players at the club and I can't stress how supportive the senior players have been towards working with the younger players. I'd like to thank them for that and wish Leeds all the best."

July 19: David O'Leary is on the hunt for a new job tonight after parting company with Aston Villa by "mutual consent". Under O'Leary, Villa have slipped down the table and were realistic relegation challengers last time round, playing pretty awful football according to my long-suffering Villa-supporting mate. A statement from the players slagging the board off in public was thought to have been done on his prompting - although it's believed that he didn't exactly have 100% backing from them either - but an internal inquiry said he was not responsible. A Villa spokesman said: "Although no misconduct by O'Leary was uncovered it has been agreed that an amicable parting was in the best interests. A compensation package reflecting the situation has been established."

July 18: The reserves improved on their weekend defeat at Scarborough with a 1-1 draw in Limerick on Tuesday night. A crowd of around 3000 saw the home side take the lead in the second half before David Brown equalised with 15 minutes remaining. Reserves boss David Geddis said: "It was a big improvement on Saturday's game when we lost at Scarborough... Limerick are in the middle of the season and their fitness is good, but we created plenty of chances and could have won the game. It was a controlled performance and it was a big improvement all round." The reserves are due to play Darlington on Thursday night in their next warm-up match.

July 17: Leeds came from behind in tonight's friendly with Ulf Sandnes to record a 2-1 win. Playing in damp conditions, Leeds went behind to a curling shot from the home side in the first half, but Eirik Bakke scored his second goal of the tour with a header just before the break. Robbie Blake sealed the win with a strike halfway through the second half. Once again, Kevin Blackwell made liberal use of his squad, with a mass substitution around 70 minutes ringing the changes.

July 16: Millwall captain David Livermore is set to travel to Elland Road on Monday for a medical and to discuss personal terms after relegation triggered a release clause in his contract. The one-time Arsenal trainee has played over 300 games for the Lions since joining at the start of the 1999-2000 season.

July 15: The reserves were beaten 2-1 at Scarborough on Saturday with new boss David Geddis watching. They were two goals down at the break, and although Jonathan Howson pulled one back in the second half, the team failed to convert their possession and territory into anything else. The second string now travel to Ireland for a match against Limerick on Tuesday.

July 14: Leeds were held to a 2-2 draw by Norwegian side Sparta Sarpsborg on Thursday night. An OG from the hosts and an Eirik Bakke penalty twice gave Leeds the advantage, but the Norwegians pegged Leeds back on both occasions. Triallist Hayden Foxe, new signing Seb Carole and youngster Ben Parker all got their first team "debuts", with fringe players like Jermaine Beckford, Gylfi Einarsson and Joel Griffiths also on view as Kev tries to get to grips with how his squad has developed over the break.

July 12: The close-season works to improve facilities in the South Stand have over-run, so there will be no tickets available in that area for the season opener against Norwich. Needing no excuse to conjure a conspiracy theory, some people have questioned just how much encouragement to hit the deadlines the builders have received from Uncle Ken, pointing to the fact that the South Stand is the main area favoured for folks looking for cheap match-day/one-off tickets and they'll probably end up paying considerably more for West/East stand seats.

July 12: Richard Cresswell was one of several absentees as the squad set off for Norway. The striker has not yet fully recovered from a knee op last season and so misses the trip in order to focus on some serious physio aimed at getting his damaged joint back to full working order. Also missing was Sean Gregan who didn't renew his passport in time.

July 12: Forget the Milan and Paris catwalk shows, Saturday is the Red Letter Day for the fashion industry as it sees the launch of the new Bet24-sponsored Leeds United kits. The team will be wearing them for the game in Sarpsborg, but for the rest of us we'll just have to wait until Saturday before beating down the shop doors, sprinting to the racks and then sighing in disappointment as we realise that they've already sold out of XXXLs.

July 11: They've only been back in training a week but already we've got our first injury report of the new season. Shaun Derry will stay at home when the rest of the squad travel to Norway this week for the first pre-season games because of a toe injury picked up at the end of last season. Stephen Crainey picked up a knock in a training session last week, and Ian Moore has shin splints. Blackwell said: "It's par for the course in pre-season particularly when it's as hard as it's been this year." WHAT? If it's hard then water it! And make sure that everyone is warmed up, padded up and not diving into tackles so early on. Blackwell added: "My main concern is that we have to be a fit side. We won a lot of games in the last ten minutes last season." Viewers of the USA's matches in Germany will be surprised to learn that Eddie Lewis has been given an extra week off to recover from his strenuous efforts in the tournament.

July 11: Triallist Hayden Foxe will travel out to Norway with the squad as he aims to impress Kevin Blackwell and win a contract The Australian international will be on the plane this afternoon after spending the last year recovering from a foot injury, and along with Seb Carole will be the only new face in a squad that has already seen several departures.

July 11: Jermaine Wright has finalised a move to Southampton after being released by Leeds this summer. Wright had a loan spell with the Saints last season, and rejoins his former boss at Ipswich George Burley.

July 07: Simon Walton has completed his move to Charlton. Addicks manager Iain Dowie said:"Simon is a talented boy and he might surprise a few people. He's very competitive, a very strong runner in terms of power and a great athlete who is very comfortable on the ball. We think he's a very good investment for the future, but looking at his attributes he's a lad capable of playing in the Premiership sooner rather than later as well."

July 06: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink will not be joining Celtic after all. Humphrey Nijman said the striker would have loved to have played for Celtic but that he had not been sufficiently impressed with the pie franchise at Parkhead and was worried that both his huge backside and enormous wallet might be shrunk by a spell in Glasgow. Nijman said: "One thing is for sure is we did all we can to do it and Gordon Strachan also tried his best to get Jimmy. It was a move both parties wanted. But we were not able to come to an agreement so that is the end of it. We have three Premiership clubs interested in him and we will be speaking to them now."

July 05: Seb Carole has been confirmed as Kevin Blackwell's first summer signing. The Brighton man had a relegation clause in his contract that allowed him to move on a free. Kevin Blackwell said: "We're delighted to complete the signing of Seb. We're always on the lookout for players who can strengthen the squad here and Seb fits the criteria of what we are looking for. He's a young lad, he's ambitious, and he did well at Brighton last season during a tough year. He's got good pace and can play on either flank. He's a welcome addition to the squad." Simon Walton was in talks with Charlton over a proposed half-million quid move to The Valley. After making his debut as a 16-year-old, Walton fell out of favour with Kevin Blackwell last season and it's not clear whether Iain Dowie sees the youngster as a midfielder - where Blackwell played him - or as a centreback which was his more usual position. Blackwell, said: "They're a Premiership club and it's potentially a great opportunity for him. We won't stand in his way." Meanwhile Luton have knocked back a bid from Blackwell for midfielder Kevin Nicholls and striker Steve Howard.

July 05: While the first team are swanning around Scandinavia, the reserves have a game at Scarborough on the horizon. They'll be dangling their feet in the North Sea on Saturday week with KO at 1500.

July 05: Lee Bowyer was in the headlines and in court yet again, this time facing charges surrounding his on-field contretemps with teammate Kieron Dyer. Bowyer was fined £600 and had costs of £1000 after pleading guilty to using threatening behaviour at St James Park in April last year. Northumbria chief crown prosecutor Nicola Reasbeck said: "The criminal law doesn't cease to operate once you cross the touchline of a sports field." Strangely enough, Alan "elbow in the face, stamp on the head" Shearer has yet to receive a knock on the door from the Old Bill. Bowyer's solicitor Steven Barker said: "The incident was blown out of all proportion. Far more serious incidents occur almost weekly in sport and go unpunished. Lee has already apologised for his action on that day as well as apologising personally to Kieron Dyer. He remains a friend of Kieron."

July 04: Not many players are over the moon when they see the big red ring around the day at the start of July that marks the beginning of pre-season training. But after last season's injury nightmare, Steve Stone is raring to go as the team return to Thorp Arch. Stone said: "At the back end of last season I was playing catch-up all the time. I tried to put myself in a position where I could help the team for half an hour here and there, but it was always going to be a big ask. When I come to the start of next season I want to be 100 per cent fit. There are no excuses this time round - I've trained the whole summer by myself. I'll do pre-season and if it goes wrong now then it's my fault. It's down to me."

July 02: Kevin Blackwell hit out at Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock, accusing the Blades of offering a "paltry amount" to snatch Matt Kilgallon and Rob Hulse. Blackwell said: "Neil Warnock did enquire about Matthew Kilgallon but we don't have to give our players away any more. I noticed that Neil paid £3million for Claude Davis at Preston and then offered a paltry amount for Killa. I don't know whether he thinks I'm going to do him any favours. The valuation of our players is the valuation that we think is right for this football club. Neil's 12 months too late for nicking bargains out of Leeds United. This isn't a bargain basement club anymore."

July 01: On the day Le Tour kicks off minus the four favorites and 10% of the expected starters, I'd just like to draw your attention to another bike ride that's taking place. Jane Tomlinson - the Leeds woman who was told she had 6 months to live because of breast cancer nearly 6 years ago - has already raised over £1 million for charities and rode from Rome to Leeds in her last major ride. Now she's trying to top that by riding across the USA, starting at San Francisco and aiming to finish in New York on August 31. You can find out more about the ride and how to donate to Jane's charities here. Puts the football and the drug cheats into perspective.

July 01: So that's it for Sven - signing off with a whimper and a whinge from Rooney, but with Aaron Lennon dropping a strong hint to Steve McClaren that he deserves more than an occasional few minutes and Owen Hargreaves completing his transformation from the boo-boys number one target to the player the fans respect the most for his commitment, work-rate and attitude. Given the injuries, team selection and random formations that have been used over the last year or so, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that we failed to progress, but this was our best chance for years and we blew it. No doubt Sven will be hoping for the job offers to come rolling in, but he looks like a man whose time has gone and who has consistently shown himself unable to organise and motivate his team on the big occasion. Wonder if he's had any advice from Kev?

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