Neil Warnock’s major surgery is reaching its end-game with just 22 days to go until the opening match against Wolves. With the takeover still not completed, and Leeds facing cash-flow issues under the current ownership, Warnock hasn’t done a bad job so far. Warnock, who famously assured Nigel Clough:

You’ll never see another Leeds United or Neil Warnock team like this again

has allowed five players contracts to expire this May. He has since sold Adam Clayton and Andy Lonergan for a combined total of around £800,000. Meanwhile, the wheeler-dealer has signed Adam Drury, Paul Green and David Norris on frees, as well as signing Jason Pearce, Paddy Kenny and Rodolph Austin for a combined total of around £1.3m. And while Warnock was desperate to keep want-away midfielder Robert Snodgrass, who told Norwich he “jumped at the chance” to sign for the bookies’ tip for relegation, the reported £3m-plus-variables fee, with £1.5m up front, will prove vital in his bid to create a hard-to-beat team capable of a consistent push to promotion.

Warnock has told fans of his determination to find 3 “icing on the cake” players to turn an upper-mid table team into promotion contenders, and already looks set to use £800,000 on the long awaited capture of Leicester full-back Lee Peltier (whose price has risen by about £500,000 in the past month thanks to the lack of cash available to the gaffer) to round off probably the strongest Leeds defence since Gary Kelly retired. Next on Warnock’s list is a quality striker and he will have the funds to capture a good one. Links to Leeds continue to include Jay Bothroyd, Jermaine Beckford, Craig Mackail-Smith and Nicky Maynard.

Warnock said:

We don’t know what’s going to happen with Ross [McCormack] and I want to strengthen that area by getting lads who we know will score goals in the Championship. It’ll be a relief when we sign someone of the calibre I’m looking for.

With interest in several transfer listed players including Billy Paynter and Andy O’Brien, and with McCormack possibly leaving, and about £3m already in the ‘warchest’, Warnock will look to sign the quality that differentiates a promotion chasing team from an upper mid table one, and the next couple of weeks could be crucial to Leeds’ hopes next season.

But let’s not forget the importance of the January window. It is vital Warnock is given what he needs this summer, and with new owners waiting in the wings he probably will receive the money from player sales for once. But the winter window is a vital follow-up to the summer window. Warnock was active for QPR in January 2011, bringing in 4 players to help the club over the line, while last season’s champions Reading also brought in 4 players to help their surge to the title.

Leeds signed Andy O’Brien while releasing six senior players in 2010-11’s winter window, and Robbie Rogers signed while we sold club captain Jonny Howson in 2011-12. The winter window will be another crucial period for the club, and with Bates apparently on his way out, it looks like we might finally have the backing we need all year round to mount a serious promotion challenge next season, and we should have the stable finances to build on this season’s campaign should we fail