Sheffield United target Ryan Leonard is understood to have told Southend he wants to leave Roots Hall.
Sources in Essex last night claimed the midfielder revealed his stance after two undisclosed bids, from Bramall Lane and Bolton Wanderers, were rejected by the League One club’s hierarchy.
Chris Wilder, the United manager, is ready to press ahead with his attempt to sign Leonard after winning promotion to the Championship last term. But the 49-year-old has warned on several occasions he will not allow potential deals to “drag on” if it risks upsetting United’s preparations for the new campaign.
Southend have remained tight-lipped on Leonard’s situation since news of Wilder’s interest first emerged. But like Charlton Athletic’s Ricky Holmes, who also features on United’s wanted-list, he has yet to accept the new contract subsequently offered by his employers.
Although Southend recently triggered a clause which entitled them to extend Leonard’s present agreement until next summer, United, Wanderers and Millwall, who are also known to be monitoring his situation closely, believe that could eventually force their hand.