I'd like to face Town in the Premiership

FLATTERED by the £1.5million offered, and the smooth-talking Steve Bruce, Jamie Clapham was convinced that agreeing the move to Birmingham City was the right thing for him.

By Derek Davis

FLATTERED by the £1.5million offered, and the smooth-talking Steve Bruce, Jamie Clapham was convinced that agreeing the move to Birmingham City was the right thing for him.

Clapham will complete his move to St Andrews tomorrow once he has successfully passed his medical tonight.

The 27-year-old, who was voted Ipswich Town Player of the Year in 1999, was reluctant to leave Portman Road where he picked up a winner's medal at Wembley in the promotion play-offs and was touted as a possible answer to England's left-sided problems.

He said: "It was a very difficult decision to leave because I'm very settled here and have been treated very well and I will take away a lot of good memories.

"I want to thank the Ipswich Town fans, who have been brilliant to me, and especially want to thank the staff at the club who have been excellent. We really have all been in it together, good and bad.

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"The club have got a very good deal out of this, especially in the current market."

Town agreed an initial £1m offer for Clapham which will rise to £1.5m depending on appearances made and if City retain their Premiership status.

It is the size of the offer which Clapham found flattering and convinced him to meet with Bruce.

He said: "For them to be willing to pay so much in the current climate made be aware how much they wanted me.

"Once I spoke with Steve Bruce I was sure on the football side it would be the right move to make."

Clapham has agreed a three-and-a-half year contract with the Midlands outfit but hopes he will soon be facing his Town mates.

He said: "The ideal scenario for me is to come back to Portman Road next season with Birmingham to play Ipswich in the Premiership."

He is expected to go straight into the squad to face Arsenal on Sunday, which could mean former Colchester United defender Martin Grainger losing out.

The Lincolnshire-born player started at Tottenham Hotspur before signing for Ipswich four years ago this month in a £200,000 move following a successful loan spell.

Clapham has been a superb servant to Ipswich Town. He made his 250th appearance for them at Portsmouth, part of an unbroken 36-match run this season alone, and weighed in with 16 goals overall.

Blues boss Joe Royle was sad to lose the consistent Clapham but accepted the financial realities.

He said: "Birmingham are getting a terrific player, a great professional and a nice bloke.

"He has made an outstanding contribution to Ipswich Town and has been excellent for me since I have been here.

"But life goes on. We have players waiting to take his place in midfield and we have to get on with things.

"It is a shame to lose him but the club needs the money and had no choice but to accept the offer."

Clapham puts his resurgence in form down to Royle.

He said: "He gave me back my confidence which had dipped. He brought the best out of me and I owe a lot to him."

Town travel to Burnley on Saturday hoping Thomas Gaardsoe continues to make good progress with a groin strain. He is the main fitness doubt after Tommy Miller recovered from a sore knee, and although the tendinitis persists he is expected to play.

Although the snow forced Royle to cancel training in interests of player safety yesterday, the weather is better in Lancashire. Turf Moor is in good condition and there should be no problems with the game going ahead.

Sheffield United midfielder Michael Tonge will miss the FA Cup tie against Ipswich Town after his booking against Liverpool last night took him to five cautions for the season.

Tonge scored both his team's goals in an unexpected 2-1 first-leg win in the Worthington Cup semi-final.

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