Blues view Nou man

IPSWICH trialist Pascal Nouma is hoping it's a case of third time lucky in his bid to earn a move to England.The much-travelled, fiery French striker was set to feature for Town in tonight's final pre-season friendly against Spanish League side Osasuna at Portman Road.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH trialist Pascal Nouma is hoping it's a case of third time lucky in his bid to earn a move to England.

The much-travelled, fiery French striker was set to feature for Town in tonight's final pre-season friendly against Spanish League side Osasuna at Portman Road.

Nouma, 32, had a successful trial with Bolton three years ago but although boss Sam Allardyce opened talks with his agent the move never transpired.

And Premiership new boys Crystal Palace recently decided not to offer him a contract after he spent a week on trial at Selhurst Park.

Nouma is a player of proven pedigree who cost Turkish club Besiktas £3.5million when they signed him from Lens in 2000.

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He played for the French club against Arsenal in the Champions League - and Town boss Joe Royle remembers it well.

Royle said: “I had a call on Saturday from an agent I know, asking if I would be interested in having a look at Pascal.

“I knew the name and I remembered the player. I recalled him doing particularly well against Arsenal at Highbury and decided it would be worth having a look.

“He flew over yesterday and arrived here last night.

“It all happened out of the blue and tonight's game gives us the perfect opportunity to see what he can do.”

Town are waiting on international clearance to include Nouma, whose last club was in Qatar, but Royle said: “From what I can gather it shouldn't be a problem.”

Nouma played for Lens against Arsenal on four occasions, starting with a double header at the opening group stage of the Champions League in the 1998-99 season.

He was in the side that drew 1-1 at home with the Gunners and then triumphed 1-0 at Wembley two months later.

The sides met again at the semi-final stage of the UEFA Cup the following season, Arsenal winning the Highbury first leg 1-0.

Nouma netted in the return, but his goal was sandwiched between those of Thierry Henry and Nwankwo Kanu as Arsene Wenger's men triumphed 3-1 on aggregate.

He has starred for Paris St Germain (twice), Lille, Caen, Strasbourg and Marseille, as well as Lens and Besiktas (twice).

He scored 23 goals in 34 league games in his first spell with the Turks, but he was sacked after a bizarre goal celebration.

Nouma netted against rivals Fenerbahce and immediately put his hand down his shorts, a gesture that was captured by television cameras and sparked widespread outrage.

Besiktas president Serdar Bilgili cancelled the player's contract and added: “His actions are definitely against Turkish moral values and traditions. We have decided to send him back to his country.”

Even the Turkish government slammed the player, who was banned from football in the country for seven months.

Nouma admitted: “I shouldn't have done it. If it hurt Turkey, then I am sorry.

“It was not against anyone. It was just a private sign of joy.”

The player has also been accused of hitting a journalist in a nightclub and urinating in public view at a training camp, prompting Royle to add: “We are aware he has had a chequered career.”

Meanwhile, former Ipswich striker Alun Armstrong has seen his hopes of a move to Bristol City collapse.

He was in the squad for player-manager Brian Tinnion's testimonial match, a 0-0 draw against Portsmouth, but did not feature after he aggravated an achilles injury.

Tinnion later said: “We will not be pursuing Alun Armstrong. He trained with us again yesterday and picked up another injury, so that is the end of that.”

Chris Bart-Williams, also freed by Town at the end of last season, was a substitute for Leeds in their

3-1 win at Hibs on Saturday and is still waiting to hear if he will be offered a permanent deal.

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