MICK McCarthy is closing in on signing Nottingham Forest keeper Lee Camp – despite Scott Loach’s impressive rise back to the first team.

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Loach, below right, followed up his FA Cup man-of-the-match performance at Aston Villa with a clean sheet at Championship runaway leaders Cardiff City with the Blues earning a deserved goalless draw.

But McCarthy’s desire to strengthen the core of his improving Ipswich Town team is expected to again be seen this week with Camp top of the list.

After stalling on a new deal at the City Ground, the 28-year-old has been told by new Forest boss Alex McLeish that he can leave this month – opening the door for Town to swoop.

Camp, a Northern Ireland international and one of the most consistent keepers outside of the top-flight, would provide strong competition for Loach, who has come in for praise from Blues centre-back Tommy Smith.

Smith said: “He’s a good keeper – he’s always been a good keeper. I’m really pleased for him because he’s had to wait for his chance and has been working hard in training.”

That won’t stop McCarthy, below left, eyeing greater competition for Loach and reserve keeper Arran Lee-Barrett with the Blues boss appearing to turn his back on another loan deal for West Ham’s Stephen Henderson.

Despite a frantic January transfer window thus far – Camp would be McCarthy’s fifth new addition – the Town boss doesn’t look like stopping there.

In fact, we understand the Blues boss could sign as many as FIVE new players before the end of the January transfer window – a keeper, a centre-back, a wide player, a central midfielder and DJ Campbell.

Nigel Reo-Coker’s departure from the Blues, confirmed by McCarthy on Saturday night, means the Town boss will be in the market for a replacement, with Colchester United’s Anthony Wordsworth close to a move according to reports.

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