Joe looking for two new faces

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is looking to recruit a maximum of two new players ahead of the big kick-off.The Town squad reported back for pre-season training today, with Royle keen to establish which players will be staying put for the new campaign.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is looking to recruit a maximum of two new players ahead of the big kick-off.

The Town squad reported back for pre-season training today, with Royle keen to establish which players will be staying put for the new campaign.

He said: “Once the picture is clearer - and it should be this week - I can start making plans, but there isn't going to be a rash of new signings.

“We are talking one or two at the most and we won't be paying money. That's the reality of the situation.”

Royle has identified several signing targets - “a short short list” - and will consult with chairman David Sheepshanks before making any firm moves.

“At the moment I know the people I would like to approach,” said the Town manager. “I have spoken to agents and made them aware, but that's as far as I can take it for the time being.”

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Royle also confirmed he intends to make full use of the loan market next season, adding: “That's what this division is all about.

“I don't think it's a particularly great division but you saw last season what can happen if you throw a few bob at it, which is what the top two did.”

Despite selling striker Marcus Bent to Everton for £450,000 and another high-earning star, Martijn Reuser, on the verge of a move to Willem II, Ipswich are clearly not in a position to splash the cash in the transfer market.

Bent's departure has reduced the wage bill considerably and it would be a further boost if Dutch midfielder Martijn Reuser, who still has a year of his contract to run, departed.

With out-of-contract star Jermaine Wright only on the Portman Road payroll until Wednesday, the club's outgoings have dropped dramatically. John McGreal has left to join Burnley, while there is a question mark against Chris Makin's future after he knocked back the club's initial offer of a new deal.

Royle intended to speak to Makin today to clarify the situation after the player made it clear he would not be signing the two-month deal on offer.

Town were anxious that the

31-year-old defender should prove his fitness before they committed themselves to a further contract to incorporate the 2004-2005 season.

Makin admitted over the weekend that he was seeking improved terms and Royle said: “We need to see if Chris is fit.

“He hasn't played a competitive game since last August and, while his recovery looked to be going well, he still has to play games to convince us.”

A trio of out-of-contract players - Fabian Wilnis, Richard Naylor and Jim Magilton - were among the group who set off on the traditional first-day road run from Portman Road this morning.

While Wilnis has confirmed he is happy with his new 12-month deal, Royle said he has agreed to speak to the agents of the other two before the necessary formalities are completed.

The club's only summer recruit so far, ex-Wigan skipper Jason De Vos, was not with his new team-mates as a result of being given extra leave after his recent international exertions on behalf of Canada.

Royle added: “We are deliberately starting back a bit earlier this year to give the players an easier build-up. There will be plenty of running but they will still see the ball and while it may be a gentler introduction the players will be working hard.”

The squad will also enjoy a change of scenery, including a visit to an RAF base, before they launch their pre-season programme at Peterborough on Saturday week, July 10.

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