Kilkenny keen to stay at Leeds United

Neil Kilkenny has expressed his desire to remain at Elland Road

Neil Kilkenny has expressed his desire to remain at Elland Road

First published in Leeds by

Neil Kilkenny is still hoping to stay at Leeds United despite chairman Ken Bates claiming the midfielder is unlikely to be at Elland Road next season.

Kilkenny and Bradley Johnson see their present contracts expire at the end of June and Bates said: “We will be talking to their agents but I don’t think there will be any movement on our side. Kilkenny will probably be moving on and we wish him luck.

“Regarding Bradley, I don’t know. He wants to stay at Leeds and the manager would like him to stay but not at the kind of money his agent was looking for.”

Kilkenny, who is said to be wanted by a host of Championship clubs, wrote on his Twitter site in response to support from Leeds fans: “I have seen all your messages of support and it means so much. Of course I want to stay but it depends on if the club want me.”

American striker Mike Grella and Argentine defender Fede Bessone have been transfer-listed as they play no part in manager Simon Grayson’s plans for next season. Bessone has been on loan to Charlton since January and Grella angered Swindon last month by cutting short his loan spell.

Meanwhile Jonny Howson, who completed the season as United’s only ever-present, believes it is vital the same core of players is retained for the next campaign.

The Leeds-born midfielder, who will be 23 later this month, has already topped 200 appearances in all competitions and is in Stuart Pearce’s initial England Under-21 squad for this summer’s European Championships.

Leeds’ young player of the year winner said: “The season went really well for me. Starting every game means I must have been doing something right and chipping in with a few goals, but I am still learning.

“Disappointed as I am that we finished just outside the play-offs, we will come back stronger for next season.

“If we are going to move kick on I think we need to keep a large part of the squad because the successful teams have usually played together for a while. We know each other on and off the pitch and that can only help with team bonding.”

Manager Simon Grayson says Howson will be given longer to recharge his batteries by reporting back for pre-season training a little later than the bulk of the squad.

Adam Clayton, United’s former Manchester City midfielder, is staying on at MK Dons to help them in the League One play-offs. Clayton, 22, joined the Dons on loan in March.

They play Peterborough at the play-off semi-final stage, with the winners meeting Huddersfield Town or Bournemouth in the final.

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