Smith says players 'will stay at Leeds'

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The Independent Football

Alan Smith, the Leeds United striker, has reiterated his desire to stay at the Elland Road club. He has also assured supporters that none of his team-mates is looking for a transfer and the squad are united behind the caretaker manager, Eddie Gray, and determined to avoid relegation.

Smith, who started his two-match ban for bottle-throwing ­ which was implemented with immediate effect ­ by missing last night's Premiership match against Newcastle United, said: "I've said it enough times [that I don't want to go]. But I hope my performances from now until the end of the season are what will count."

The Leeds chief executive, Trevor Birch, has made it clear that the club do not have to sell. And Smith not only vouches that his future is with Leeds but also those of his team-mates. "There will be no sulking," he said. "Trevor has already said he doesn't want people who don't want to be here to stay. But all the lads do want to stay and they want to do well under Eddie."

Gray, who yesterday took the Georgian former Manchester City player Georgi Kinkladze on trial, is determined to keep a cool head despite the mounting pressure as the club draw nearer to the threat of administration. Birch now has just 12 days to announce a buyer pending a 19 January deadline imposed by the club's creditors, who are owed a total of £82m.

However, Gray insists he is getting on with the task at hand: "I'm not getting worried. Whatever will be, will be. You just get on with the job. Everybody at the club knows that. Everybody keeps talking about this deadline date. We will just wait until it is upon us."

Chelsea appear unlikely to sign the Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech in the near future, after the player's club, Rennes, yesterday turned down the London club's bid.

Interest from Stamford Bridge in the 21-year-old Cech has come on the back of some stirring performances for his club and country over the past 18 months. Cech is contracted to Rennes until June 2006, and his club are apparently not prepared to let him leave until this summer at the earliest.

The rebuttal may not mark the end of Chelsea's interest in the young keeper, who is also reportedly being pursued by Real Madrid and Internazionale.

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