Leeds close to rescue package

Leeds United are believed to be close to finalising a short-term rescue package designed to stave off the imminent threat of administration, but their problems on the pitch were added to yesterday with the news that their centre-back Michael Duberry could miss the rest of the month with a hamstring injury.

The club have a week to find a buyer before the 19 January deadline imposed by creditors, who are owed a combined £82m, otherwise the administrators may be called in. Leeds yesterday confirmed to the Stock Exchange that while they are in "continuing, constructive discussions with a number of parties", none of the proposals "contemplates an offer for the company's shares".

Duberry limped off 10 minutes from the end of Saturday's defeat to Tottenham.

For this weekend's trip to Southampton, Leeds' caretaker manager, Eddie Gray, will also be without his captain, Dominic Matteo, who is suspended. A question mark hangs over the availability of the striker Mark Viduka. The Australia international has returned home to be with his father, who is understood to have a brain tumour, with Gray allowing the 27-year-old as much "compassionate leave" as is necessary.

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