Forest boss fumes over Town Dele link

NOTTINGHAM Forest boss Billy Davies has issued a stark warning to Roy Keane - hands off Dele Adebola.

NOTTINGHAM Forest boss Billy Davies has issued a stark warning to Roy Keane - hands off Dele Adebola.

Davies dismissed reports that his veteran front-runner Adebola was on his way to Ipswich Town, during his weekly press conference at the City Ground yesterday.

Town had been linked with a move for Adebola, either on loan or a permanent deal, but Davies responded in no uncertain terms with a quick rebuff.

"There's not a chance in hell!" insisted Davies, in response to the possibility of Adebola joining Town.

Instead, the Scotsman sees Adebola as having a big part to play in Forest's quest for automatic promotion to the Premier League during the second half of this season.

"It's absolute nonsense. There's not a chance in hell that we'd want to lose Dele Adebola, with the contribution that he's made and the contribution he can make between now and the end of the season"

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revealed Davies.

"It's about adding to the squad, not taking it away. It was certainly a surprise to me this morning when I got the call (about Town's interest in Adebola).

"He has presence and strength, especially away from home, and he's such a fantastic example to the younger players.

"He's such a good professional, and there's no doubt in my mind that whoever started this speculation, I'm going to unfortunately disappoint them over the next two weeks," added Davies.

Keane has options up front, at least in terms of numbers, although joint leading scorer Jon Stead still has two matches to serve of a four-match suspension, while neither Tamas Priskin nor Pablo Counago have been in Town's 18-man squad for the last two games.

That leaves 16-year-old Connor Wickham, Crystal Palace loanee Stern John and skipper Jon Walters as Town's other likely striker alternatives.

Town's interest in Adebola, which first arose under previous manager Jim Magilton, resurfaced when coach Ian McParland and chief scout Steve McCall watched Forest's FA Cup third round replay at Birmingham City this week.

The 34-year-old Nigerian, who is noted for his powerful and aggressive front-play, especially his strength for holding the ball up, is currently playing for his ninth League club.

Since signing professional forms for his first club, Crewe Alexandra, Adebola has played for the likes of Birmingham City (�1m transfer in 1998), Crystal Palace, Coventry and Bristol City.

He scored 10 goals for Bristol City last term, and was voted their player-of-the-season, only to turn down the offer of a new one-year contract.

He signed for Forest instead, and has so far netted three goals in 22 appearances in the Championship, with 13 of these as a substitute.

Town entertain Coventry City at Portman Road tomorrow, looking to extend the four-point gap between themselves and the bottom three.