Ipswich's double swoop

FORMER Norwich boss Bryan Hamilton has made a sensational return to Ipswich in a coaching role.Town have also signed 23-year-old striker Marcus Bent from Blackburn in a near-£3million deal - in time for him to line up at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

By Mel Henderson

FORMER Norwich boss Bryan Hamilton is today making a sensational return to Ipswich.

Hamilton, who quit the Carrow Road hot seat almost a year ago, will work alongside manager George Burley and first team coach Tony Mowbray, and Blackburn striker Marcus Bent is also set to complete his near-£3 million move later today.

Both Hamilton and Bent will be in the Town party that heads north tomorrow for a Premiership clash at Middlesbrough on Sunday and a Worthington Cup clash at Newcastle just two days later.

News of Hamilton's return will stun supporters of both Ipswich and Norwich, as he returns to the club where he first made his name as a player.

Hamilton, who will be 55 next month, embarked on a coaching and management career after he quit as a player and eventually took charge of the national team.

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It was after he left that job that he resurfaced at Portman Road, joining the coaching staff in November, 1997, when Town were struggling near the bottom of the First Division.

His arrival, together with that of David Johnson, helped to inspire an amazing turnaround that saw the team climb the table and qualify for the play-offs.

Hamilton was offered the chance to stay on board, but he rejected a two-year contract in favour of a three-year deal as the Canaries' director of football.

That role saw him oversee Norwich's academy set-up and assist boss Bruce Rioch, but in March last year he succeeded the former Scotland captain as manager at Carrow Road.

His first game in charge was an East Anglian derby at Portman Road, which the Canaries won, but he was gone by the end of the year after just ten wins in his 39 games.

Since his departure, Hamilton has been concentrating on TV and radio work and he was on duty at last night's game against Inter Milan.

Town boss Burley said: "We brought Bryan in four years ago and he did very well for us during his six months here.

"He has bags of experience and is a very good coach. He will work alongside myself and Tony Mowbray at first team level."

Meanwhile, Burley hopes to complete the deal to bring striker Marcus Bent on board after Ipswich and Blackburn agreed a fee close to £3 million.

The 23-year-old watched last night's UEFA Cup win over Inter Milan, when he was sporting an Ipswich hat and heavy jacket to protect him against the cold.

Burley added: "We hope to get everything sorted out with Marcus in time for him to be added to the squad for Middlesbrough on Sunday.

"He is big, strong, quick and can score goals. He is just what we need at the moment with the injury situation as it is. It is important that we strengthen the attacking department."

Broken jaw victim Marcus Stewart attended last night's game, but Burley said: "He is still wired up and can't say too much."

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