By Harry Sykes

Liam Bridcutt has been omitted from the Leeds United squad for their Championship clash against Sunderland on Saturday evening in a major hint that he is set to follow Chris Wood out of the exit door.

Club captain Bridcutt is overlooked as manager Thomas Christiansen sticks with Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips as his central midfield pairing for the fourth consecutive match.

With Mateusz Klich and Ronaldo Vieira on the substitute’s bench, there is no place in the matchday 18 for Bridcutt even though he is fit and available for selection

This come after speculation that Leeds’ second-tier rivals Nottingham Forest are exploring whether they can strike a deal for the 28-year-old before the transfer window shuts.

Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay interpreted Bridcutt’s absence as a clear signal for Forest to step up their pursuit of the player next week.

Wood released a statement on Friday evening to reveal he is in talks to join an unnamed Premier League club, widely reported to be Burnley, after pulling out of the clash against Sunderland.

It appears two of the key men in Garry Monk’s 2016-17 team are unlikely to be at Elland Road on 1 September.

BBC Radio Nottingham Sport reported on their Twitter account on Friday morning that Forest manager Mark Warburton is looking to add another midfielder to his squad and has set his sights on Bridcutt.

The east Midlands club are keen to take advantage of the contract situation of the 28-year-old, who has 10 months remaining on his contract.

Bridcutt did not make Leeds’ matchday 18 for the first two league fixtures but was an unused substitute in the goal-less draw against Fulham on Tuesday night.

Football Insider verdict:

Leeds should only sell Bridcutt if they are made a £1million-plus offer and have an alternative lined up to replace him. As Christiansen points out, the season is long and Leeds will need the experience and controlling presence of the midfield anchorman. Bridcutt is perfect when a team has a lead to sit out, but his lack of adventure and passing range can be a major hindrance when goals are needed. Monk loved the commitment and character of the 28-year-old enough to make him skipper and make him a fulcrum of the side. Christiansen does not value him as highly, but Leeds should not rush to cash in unless the deal makes total sense.

In other Leeds United transfer news, Football Insider can exclusively reveal that three Premier League clubs have tabled formal bids for Wood.

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