A TRIO of signings have bolstered Leeds United’s squad ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Middlesbrough, writes Steven Back.

After emerging 2-1 winners in the Capital One Cup over Accrington Stanley to earn a second round trip to neighbours Bradford, Leeds have strengthened manager David Hockaday’s squad by acquiring Billy Sharp, Liam Cooper and Giuseppe Bellusci.

Sharp became surplus to requirements at Southampton and now gives Hockaday a proven goal-scorer he has been searching for.

Owner Massimo Cellino has also shored up the defence, securing Bellusci on a year’s loan from Catania in their native Italy, while also giving Cooper a three-year deal from Chesterfield.

The new additions might indicate York-born defender Sam Byram may be the next player to leave Elland Road. The cultured right-back was surprisingly left on the bench for the Accrington tie and has reportedly attracted covetous interest from Premier League duo Sunderland and Southampton.

Middlesbrough arrive on the back of successive wins against Birmingham and Oldham and will provide a stern test.

However, Hockaday was pleased by the cup win, insisting his squad are making steps in the right direction.

Said the Leeds coach: “Overall it was a good performance in the first half. We showed glimpses of what we are about but it shows we have got a lot of work to do.”