Luke Varney insists he didn’t refuse to play for Leeds United last month, in a bid to seal a move to Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers.
The 31-year-old agreed to join the Ewood Park outfit on transfer deadline day, having struggled to find regular first team football at Elland Road this season. During the first half of the campaign, the former Crewe Alexandra youngster had made just 11 league appearances for the Whites, and he felt his contract situation was a reason for this.
Varney will become a free agent when his current deal expires in the summer, but it looked as though his chance to persuade Blackburn of his quality had passed when prospective new Leeds owner Massimo Cellino blocked his loan move. However, the deal was back on when the loan window opened, and he will see out the rest of the season in Lancashire.
Amidst this confusion, Leeds manager Brian McDermott claimed the forward had refused to play in the 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on 28 January. However, Varney has hit back at these suggestions, and insists that whilst he expressed his concern about being involved, he made it clear that if selected, he would give his all for the cause.
“Basically, I said to the manager that I was worried about getting injured but that if he did choose to play me, that I would give 100 per cent,” he told the Lancashire Telegraph. “That was the end of that and he told me to go and train and then we’d have a chat after. He then came up to and said to me, ‘listen Luke, we won’t play (you), we’ll play [El Hadji Diouf]’.
“I said thank you to him as I was glad he understood my situation. I just thought I’d mention it as I didn’t want him thinking my mind wasn’t completely on the game. It was an adult conversation and there was no problem. But to see comments saying I refused to play were completely untrue and people who know me say I would never do that. But I spoke to the manager about it and we cleared the air and it was fine.”
Since moving to Ewood Park, Varney has made one substitute appearance, in the 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough last weekend. However, manager Gary Bowyer is expected to give him plenty of opportunities during the remainder of the season, and has already indicated there is every chance the move will be made permanent in the summer.