Belfast Telegraph

Gavin Whyte can still land dream move as Leeds links go quiet: Baxter

By Alex Mills

Gavin Whyte finds himself in transfer limbo as his dream of a move to England hangs in the balance.

Leeds United’s appointment of a new manager, combined with Crawley Town’s withdrawal of interest, have put a severe dent in the 22-year-old’s hopes.

After helping Crusaders to a third Premiership title in four years, wing wizard Whyte was included in Northern Ireland’s squad for the trip to Central America and, though he didn’t feature against either Panama or Costa Rica, it had been expected that a Seaview exit was imminent, with Leeds at the front of the queue for his signature.

“It has all gone very quiet,” says Baxter.

The recent arrival of Marcelo Bielsa to the Elland Road hotseat looks to have scuppered any chances of deal being struck any time soon, with the former Argentina boss this week declaring a focus on trimming his squad at the SkyBet Championship club.

Crawley have pulled out of the race, with Peterborough United also cooling interest, however Crues chief Baxter insists Whyte could still get a dream move to full-time football — even though all his transfer speculation has fallen silent.

“I’m guessing that’s because (English) clubs are still on a break,” explains Baxter.

“Their season ended a bit later than our local campaign.

“I guess the clubs will start getting back over the next few weeks. The transfer window is open until the end of August, so there is still every possibility of something happening.

“If I remember, Paul Smyth signed for QPR quite late on (in the transfer window) last season. Clubs do their business in different ways.

“Gavin is fine, he’s not worrying about it. There is no talk at the minute, so we are reasonably happy to keep it that way.”

On the potential for Bielsa’s arrival at Leeds to derail the club’s interest in the Crusaders star, Baxter adds: “I honestly don’t know. The new manager will probably want to assess his squad before any transfer activity. It may alter things but, at this moment in time, I just don’t know.”

Baxter’s immediate concern is preparing his squad — Whyte included — for their upcoming Champions League showdowns with Ludogorets of Bulgaria.

“The boys are all quite looking forward to the trip,” he adds.

“It really is a fantastic draw, considering they were in the Champions League group stages a few seasons back.

“We know we are going to be up against it.

“They (Ludogorets) are certainly taking the tie seriously.

“They sent a delegation last Saturday to watch us in our friendly with Connah’s Quay Nomads, which included their sports scientist.

“Then, a party of three people arrived from Bulgaria on Thursday to look over the ground,  inspect the training facilities and to book hotels and so on. They completed a detailed report. They are leaving nothing to chance at this level of football.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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