Double blow for Town

PUBLISHED: 21:00 16 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

OUT of contract duo Tommy Miller and Shefki are on their way from Ipswich.

Town were dealt a devastating double blow today when it was revealed that the pair are both quitting.

OUT of contract duo Tommy Miller and Shefki are on their way from Ipswich.

Town were dealt a devastating double blow today when it was revealed that the pair are both quitting.

High-scoring midfielder Miller is bound for Sunderland and Kuqi, last season's leading marksman with 20 goals, is also destined for the Premiership.

The Finnish international has rejected an offer to extend his stay at Portman Road in favour of better terms from a top-flight outfit, believed to be Blackburn.

Town boss Joe Royle said: “I can confirm that both Tommy and Shefki have chosen to look elsewhere for their football next season.”

Royle interrupted his holiday in Majorca to comment on the dramatic development, adding: “We made excellent offers to both players, as good as we could make at Championship level, but the lure of the Premiership has proven too great.

“I'm sorry to see them go and wish them every success in their future careers. But now I know where we stand for next season and can start looking ahead.

“It's been a waiting game for us to see what decision the out-of-contract players made, but we have had plans in place for a while and will now step them up to bring in new recruits.

“We are talking to a number of players and things are moving along - but it's not a race.

“There's still plenty of time to get the squad I want in place before the start of next season - a squad that will challenge for a place in the Premiership.”

Miller's exit comes hot on the heels of Kelvin Davis joining the Black Cats, who pipped Town for the Championship crown and promotion to the Premiership just a few weeks ago.

Royle has now seen the best goalkeeper and midfielder outside the top flight - according to official Football League statistics - quit and head for Wearside.

England Under-21 ace Darren Bent also completed a £2.5 million move to Charlton and despite pocketing around £4 million Ipswich will shell out only a fraction of that sum on reinforcements.

With Kuqi also departing, it means Ipswich are losing the services of a goalkeeper chosen for the PFA select team, as well as a trio of players who contributed an impressive 54 goals between them last season.

Missing out on promotion has cost Ipswich more than the millions they would have earned in the top flight.

Miller's father, Tommy senior, who is also his agent, said today: “Tommy gets back from his honeymoon on Tuesday and will drive up to Sunderland on Wednesday to have his medical and sign.”

It is a dream move for the 26-year-old, who was released by Town as a schoolboy and then recruited by George Burley in a £750,000 deal from Hartlepool four years ago.

He stood behind the goal with his schoolboy pals at Sunderland's former home, Roker Park, and his father-in-law is a Stadium of Light season ticket holder.

Miller had also attracted the attention of a number of other clubs, but found the pull of Sunderland, and the lure of playing in the Premiership, hard to resist.

His father added: “Everything is agreed. It is a hard decision for him to leave Ipswich because he loves the club and respects Joe Royle. Sunderland is the only club he would leave for.

“There were offers from other clubs. I spoke to Leeds and was very impressed with what Kevin Blackwell had to say.

“Crystal Palace made an approach, but it never got down to talking personal terms because Tommy was already decided on Sunderland.

“There were approaches through third parties in the Premiership and from a third party representing Celtic, but Sunderland made a firm offer and Tommy wants to come to the Stadium of Light.

“He's excited about it. I used to take him to Roker Park to watch matches and he also had a love for the Liverpool side when he was a lad.”

Penalty ace Miller was only absent from one league game last season and 13 of his 15 goals came in the Championship as Town finished third.

In total he made 139 appearances, of which 23 were as a substitute, and scored 37 goals.

His father added: “This move is at the right time for him and for Sunderland. He had a little taste of the Premiership.

“He wouldn't be coming here if he thought Sunderland would come straight back down because if he wanted to play in the Championship he would have stayed at Ipswich.

“I spoke to Joe Royle yesterday and told him everything is agreed with Sunderland. Joe's delighted that Tommy has got into the Premiership and has wished him well.

“There are no hard feelings. Joe wants Tommy to go back to the training ground to say goodbye to everyone, so they are parting on good terms.

“Tommy has worked for two great managers at Ipswich in George and Joe and it will be good for him to work with a man like Mick (McCarthy), who knows the business and is well respected.”

Kuqi, who has also been a target for relegated Crystal Palace, arrived on loan from Sheffield Wednesday in September 2003 and two months later made the move permanent.

He made 88 appearances, 14 as a substitute, and scored 32 goals.

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