By Wayne Veysey

1st Mar, 2018 | 3:22pm

Early Heck masterstroke as Leeds offer carrot of deal to pass master who can slice open defences

COMMENT By Richard Parks

It is approaching that time of the season when players whose contracts are due to expire are getting twitchy about their futures.

Pablo Hernandez is firmly in that category as his current Leeds United contract runs out at the end of June, at which point he becomes a free agent.

The Spaniard has already gone public with his desire to sign a new deal and director of football Victor Orta admitted earlier this week that conversations would begin soon with his agent.

Manager Paul Heckingbottom has now had his say, telling BBC Radio Leeds today, as quoted by their Twitter account, that he will give all players soon to be out of contract “as much time as possible” to prove themselves they are worthy of extended terms.

This is a masterstroke from the manager so early in his reign.

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It means Hernandez and company know they need to perform to get new deals.

Heckingbottom will be judging them on what they do under his command, and not on past performances under previous managers, before making recommendations to the board.

Leeds United are not nearly so good enough that they cannot afford to prioritise extending the contract of Spanish maestro Hernandez.

The playmaker has his off days, and his tendency to go missing during tough away matches, should prompt a rotation from Paul Heckingbottom that neither Thomas Christiansen or Garry Monk were willing to countenance.

But Hernandez remains one of the few players in Leeds’ squad who can elevate the team’s play and produce a moment of magic or a pass no-one else could see to rip open up a defence in a close-fought Championship encounter.

That said, the 32-year-old needs to deliver the goods in the coming weeks and cannot just rely upon the six goals and eight assists he has already supplied this season.

Heckingbottom has offered the carrot and it is up to Hernandez if he wants to accept it.

In other Leeds United news, the club have agreed the terms of an £8.5million deal, with the first payment scheduled for the summer.

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