Leeds target Taylor swoop

Reporter: by TONY BUGBY
Date published: 08 June 2009

Latics latest: Latics face fight to keep exciting winger
ATHLETIC could have a battle to hold on to exciting winger Chris Taylor, with Coca-Cola League One rivals Leeds United reportedly preparing to make a bid.

Leeds are understood to be willing to pay £500,000 for the 22-year-old’s services, but Athletic would be looking for a fee of around £1 million.

Athletic are in no hurry to sell Taylor (pictured above), one of the hottest properties in the lower divisions, and they will not let him go on the cheap after he recently signed an extended contract until June 2012.

It is not for the first time that Taylor, who scored 11 goals for Athletic last season, has been at the centre of transfer speculation and he has previously been linked with Leeds.

Manager Simon Grayson is an admirer, having tracked Taylor during his time at Blackpool. A switch to Leeds would suit Taylor, who has no wish to move a long distance away from his home town.

Leeds will have money to spend as they are set to sell star striker Jermaine Beckford, with Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Coventry City vying for his signature.

Neal Eardley, another of Athletic’s young jewels, won his 10th full cap for Wales in their 1-0 World Cup qualifier victory in Azerbaijan.

The 20-year-old was in starting line- up in Baku, and played the full match at left-back in the injury-enforced absences of Gareth Bale and Sam Ricketts, and that is likely to alert other clubs about his potential.

“It is great for Neal and also for the football club that he is playing at that level, and I am very pleased for him,” explained manager Dave Penney.

Mark Allott, who recently quit Athletic, will feel in a state of limbo after Tranmere Rovers sacked manager Ronnie Moore days after signing the 32-year-old midfield man on a two-year contract.

Moore, the ex-Athletic chief, paid the price for Tranmere failing by one place to qualify for the League One play offs.

The club cited a 19-per-cent drop in attendances and the need for a new direction as the reasons for the departure of Moore who had been in charge for three seasons.

John Sheridan, sacked by Athletic earlier this year, is in the frame to succeed Moore as well as still being linked with the vacancy at League Two club Chesterfield.