Bruce bids to keep place in defence

ALEX Bruce has diverted his attention to seeing out his Ipswich Town contract after accepting that he will not be offered an extension next summer.

Elvin King

ALEX Bruce has diverted his attention to seeing out his Ipswich Town contract after accepting that he will not be offered an extension next summer.

Bruce, who won his second Republic of Ireland senior cap last week, is expected to keep his place in the Blues side tomorrow against fellow Coca-Cola Championship contenders Sheffield United at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm).

The 24-year-old scored his first goal at senior level in the 2-1 defeat at Birmingham City on Tuesday and has been one of Town's better players in the last three matches.


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Team captain Gareth McAuley is fully fit after recovering from a hamstring problem and, if the former Leicester defender does win his place back against the Blades, it could be to enable central defender Richard Naylor to have a rest.

Bruce has now accepted that there will be no U-turn and that Ipswich will not change their minds after telling him he will not be offered a new contract. He has enjoyed his time at Portman Road after being an early Jim Magilton signing when he took over the Town hot seat in June 2006.

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There has been interest in Italy in Bruce following recommendations by Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni, while a number of British clubs have been watching Bruce in action - and are likely to tomorrow as well.

Magilton's large squad means he has a number of selection posers for a game that he needs to win after two defeats in his last three matches.

He was loyal to the side that beat Derby last weekend for Tuesday's visit to St Andrews, with Jon Stead, in for the injured David Norris, the only change.

Whether he decides to treat the display at Birmingham, where Town were outclassed in the opening 30 minutes, as a blip or decides to make changes remains to be seen.

Moritz Volz joined McAuley in the stands at St Andrews after serving a one-match ban, although full backs David Wright and Ben Thatcher were two of Ipswich's best players on the night.

After their effective home display against Derby at the weekend, Pablo Counago and Jon Walters must be favourites to start up front, with Tommy Miller, Alan Quinn and possibly Danny Haynes in line for a midfield place whether Norris is ruled out or not.With no movement yesterday on the final day of loan movements until the transfer window opens on January 1, Ipswich will continue to pay the wages of out-of-favour former Champions League winner Ivan Campo for the next month at any rate.

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