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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Bennett set to snub Town

PUBLISHED: 20:00 07 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

IPSWICH risk missing out on number one transfer target Ian Bennett.

Town boss Joe Royle has earmarked the experienced Birmingham goalkeeper as his next summer capture.

IPSWICH risk missing out on number one transfer target Ian Bennett.

Town boss Joe Royle has earmarked the experienced Birmingham goalkeeper as his next summer capture.

Bennett, 31, has been offered LESS money than he is on at present to extend his ten-year stay at St Andrews.

But the word from the Midlands today is that Bennett, 31, is leaning towards accepting the new package – because it is still tops what cash-strapped Ipswich can afford to pay.

There is also the lure of Premiership football for long-serving Bennett, who recently celebrated a lucrative testimonial that included an end-of-season game against the Jamaica national side.

The former Peterborough keeper has been offered a fresh deal to take him through to the end of the 2004-2005 campaign and may reach agreement within the next week.

Bennett only returned from holiday in midweek and is due to meet Steve Bruce when the Blues' boss is back from his own sunshine break in a few days' time.

If Bennett commits himself to a further two years with Birmingham, it will be a major disappointment for Royle.

He has already told Andy Marshall he does not expect him to be first choice next season and has cleared the way for the ex-Norwich keeper to depart on a free transfer if he can find a new club.

But Marshall still has a year of his £15,000-a-week deal to run and would have to accept a major drop in salary to move on.

Matteo Sereni is still a Town player, but is adamant he is staying put in Italy, and youngster James Pullen is in the same boat as Marshall – free to go if he can fix himself up elsewhere.

Bennett is in a strong bargaining position at Birmingham because manager Bruce would rather not use any of his limited transfer budget to bring in a new keeper.

He has set his sights on spending £12million to capture midfielder David Dunn from Blackburn and Arsenal's former Everton striker, Francis Jeffers.

Dutch keeper Nico Vaesen, laid low with a cruciate ligament problem, will not be fit until mid-way through the season and ex-Barnsley man Andy Marriott's short-term contract is due to expire.

Bruce has been linked with Manchester United's Roy Carroll, but Bennett's displays towards the end of last season have persuaded the Blues boss to keep faith with him.

Axed after the 4-2 flop at Bolton in February, Bennett returned the following month and was ever-present in his side's last eight league games.

He kept four clean sheets and was only on the losing side twice as Birmingham collected 16 points to consolidate their Premiership status.

Ironically, both Bennett and Marshall are represented by the same agent, but there seems little likelihood of them being Portman Road colleagues next season.

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