Joe aiming high in player search
IPSWICH are talking to a string of leading Premiership clubs in a bid to secure defensive reinforcements for the new season.By the time they kick off the 2005-2006 campaign against Cardiff next month, Town could have a player from one of the top-flight giants on board.
IPSWICH are talking to a string of leading Premiership clubs in a bid to secure defensive reinforcements for the new season.
By the time they kick off the 2005-2006 campaign against Cardiff next month, Town could have a player from one of the top-flight giants on board.
Boss Joe Royle is aiming high, even if the Portman Road coffers will only allow him to bring in free transfers or scan the loan market.
David Unsworth, who played 16 games on loan from Portsmouth last season, remains his top target.
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But negotiations have ground to a halt with Pompey stubbornly refusing to budge financially, leaving Royle with no alternative but to explore other possibilities.
Recovering at home after recent knee replacement surgery, he said: “We are still looking to bring in at least one new defender before the start of the season.
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“We are waiting to see if the situation regarding Unsy is going to change, but we are not oblivious to other players who could come into the reckoning.
“As I have said before, it is down to budget. I have never disguised the fact that I would love to have Unsy here on a permanent basis, but his situation is certainly not clear-cut.
“We are also in contact with top Premiership clubs about some of their players, who might not be expected to figure regularly at first team level in the new season.”
Royle's remarks will spark a brand new guessing game as to which players are under scrutiny and it has echoes of last summer, when he announced that a young Premiership star would be arriving on a season-long loan.
Later identified as England Under-21 international Justin Hoyte of Arsenal, unforeseen circumstances contrived to keep him at Highbury.
The Gunners were unable to sanction his release because he was required as defensive cover and Hoyte ended up making 12 senior appearances.
A change of heart by Pompey, however, could soon see Ipswich complete a deal for Unsworth.
Former Liverpool left-back Gregory Vignal has just moved to Fratton Park, pushing the player with whom Royle worked closely at Everton further down the pecking order.
If Portsmouth decide to cut their losses on Unsworth, either by settling the remaining year on his contract or by subsidising a season-long loan move, thereby bringing the player to within Town's budget, the matter could be resolved.
But there is another possible spanner in the works, with Royle admitting: “Unsy could have Premiership clubs in for him.
“Also, he is approaching the stage of his career where his next move could be his last one, so we will just have to wait and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Royle has named a 23-strong squad for tonight's first pre-season friendly at Cambridge United - and every one of them could play a part at the Abbey Stadium.
He said: “We will start with a senior side and then play a more junior team in the second half.
“The senior players will give it a real go for 45 minutes. Injuries tend to occur in the second period, which is why we intend to give the youngsters a chance.
“We will trim the squad down for our next game at Boston on Saturday and the side that starts tonight is unlikely to be the same as that against Cardiff next month.”