Burley: I lost tug-of-war for De Vos

GEORGE Burley today admitted that former club Ipswich pipped him for the signature of Jason De Vos.Burley, now in charge of Derby County, had targeted the Canadian international for a close season move to Pride Park.

GEORGE Burley today admitted that former club Ipswich pipped him for the signature of Jason De Vos.

Burley, now in charge of Derby County, had targeted the Canadian international for a close season move to Pride Park.

But Portman Road successor Joe Royle beat the Rams, as well as First Division rivals Cardiff and Stoke, to capture the 30-year-old Wigan skipper.

Burley said: “Joe has got himself a very good player. I went in for Jason and spoke to his agent, but I'm afraid Derby couldn't afford him.


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“We still have some players on Premiership wages, as Ipswich do, and we have to be realistic about the amount of money we can spend.

“It's a juggling act and all the clubs are in the same boat these days. You can't spend what you haven't got.”

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Burley may have better luck in persuading ex-Ipswich striker Alun Armstrong to join him at Pride Park.

Although the Derby boss is reluctant to confirm his interest in the big striker, I understand the player features prominently on his short list of summer targets.

It was Burley who willingly forked out £500,000 to bring

It was Burley who willingly forked out £500,000 to bring Armstrong, now 29, from Middlesbrough to Ipswich three and a half years ago.

The ex-Town boss, who departed in October 2002, marked his first season in charge of the Rams by ensuring their First Division survival.

He added: “I had a good feeling about the club - it actually reminded me of Ipswich in many ways. It's not a huge town, but there's a strong community spirit.

“But I always knew it was going to be difficult. I was grateful to the supporters for their backing. They seemed to understand how tough it was, that once you're on the slippery slope it's difficult to turn round again.

“There was a lot of pressure. We had a young team and managed to find a bit of stability when a new board came in and allowed me to sign some experienced players.

“But we used a massive amount of players, 36, which was ridiculous. We had used all our loans by Christmas and while we brought 12 players in we also allowed another 12 to go.

“I was always realistic. I said that to stay in the First Division would be an achievement, from where we were starting.

“Of our last 14 home games we won ten, drew two and lost two - and it needed that sort of run to keep us up.”

Burley hopes it will be a different story next season and, if season ticket sales are any yardstick, Rams' followers are also in more optimistic mood.

He said: “Last year we sold a total of 12,000 season tickets and already we've sold 13,500 for the new season. There's belief among the fans, who have been very loyal and have shown a lot of faith in me that I would love to repay.”

But Burley expects the First Division to be just as competitive as it proved in the campaign just ended.

He said: “You look at the three clubs coming down and you've got to fancy Wolves. Leeds are a bit of an unknown quantity, because they have their problems, but Leicester will be very competitive. You expect that from Micky Adams' teams.

“Then there's the likes of Ipswich and West Ham, and if you're looking for a dark horse I'd say Cardiff. I don't think they will be far away.”

Burley also expects Derby's fiercest rivals, Nottingham Forest, to feature in the promotion race - mainly because of a player he captured on Ipswich's behalf.

He smiled: “David Johnson will score 20 goals a season for them. Their run at the end of last season was significant for the fact that he was back from injury.”

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