Brum raid for Hermann

BIRMINGHAM are planning a second transfer raid on cash-strapped Ipswich.Hard on the heels of their £1.3 million swoop for midfielder Jamie Clapham, the Midlanders are ready to test Town's resistance with a bid for defender Hermann Hreidarsson.

By Mel Henderson

BIRMINGHAM are planning a second transfer raid on cash-strapped Ipswich.

Hard on the heels of their £1.3 million swoop for midfielder Jamie Clapham, the Midlanders are ready to test Town's resistance with a bid for defender Hermann Hreidarsson.

But manager Steve Bruce will only move for the Icelandic international if he cannot prise ex-Suffolk youngster Matthew Upson away from Arsenal.


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Upson, who used to play for the same local junior club as ex-Town pair Richard Wright and Kieron Dyer, is Birmingham's number one target.

But their interest in Hreidarsson was today confirmed by Ipswich boss Joe Royle, when he revealed that he has rejected several bids by Bruce to take the player on loan.

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Royle said: "Birmingham have been on about taking Hermann on loan. They first asked several weeks ago and they have asked again, more than once, since then, including last week when we were working on Jamie's move."

Town are not interested in releasing Hreidarsson on a temporary basis, but Royle admitted it could be a different story if the Premiership outfit made a firm cash offer to take him to St Andrews.

The Portman Road boss, whose team are unbeaten in eight league and cup games, added: "We don't want to be selling another player when things are going so well for us in terms of results.

"But if the bid is right – and it would have to be right for this club – it would be considered. As things stand at the moment, though, there has been no bid."

Even if Birmingham make a firm move, Hreidarsson will take a lot of persuading to uproot his family. His contract runs for a further two and a half years, and he recently reiterated that he is in no hurry to quit Ipswich.

Former England Under-21 international Upson had a successful spell on loan at Reading earlier this season and is keen to play regular first team football.

Birmingham are understood to have offered an initial £1 million, rising to £3 million based on appearances, but Highbury boss Arsene Wenger would prefer the player to stay put.

Upson was due to meet Wenger today and Bruce said: "We have had a bid accepted by Arsenal – I think that's common knowledge – and while it's a big decision for Matthew to make we have certainly not given up the ghost."

Meanwhile, Royle today dismissed speculation that he is on the verge of signing former Manchester United right-back John Curtis from Blackburn.

He said: "I have asked about him before in my time as a manager and I have always said that I like him as a player.

"If a benefactor came in with £20 million and I decided I needed a right-back, I would think of Curtis. But the truth is we've got no money and that's a stumbling block.

"But I am delighted with what Fabian Wilnis is doing for me – he has never played better in my time at the club – and bringing in a full-back is certainly not a priority at the moment."

Town midfielder Jim Magilton, who missed training today with a tight calf, is Royle's prime concern ahead of Saturday's home clash with Preston.

He explained: "Jim must have taken a kick on it at Burnley without realising it. We will have to be very careful it doesn't develop into a strain."

Another midfielder, Tommy Miller, also sat out training today as he continues to be troubled by tendinitis and benefits from a midweek rest.

Royle added: "It is usual for Tommy and nothing to worry about. His knee is stiff and sore, but I am confident he will be available for the weekend."

Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks has been elected to The Football League board, but has vowed his new role will not prevent him being involved on a day-to-day basis at Portman Road.

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