Joe suffers Unsworth blow

IPSWICH appear to be fighting a losing battle to land top transfer target David Unsworth.The Portsmouth star, who had a 16-game loan spell at Portman Road last season, is one of two defenders short-listed by Town boss Joe Royle.

IPSWICH appear to be fighting a losing battle to land top transfer target David Unsworth.

The Portsmouth star, who had a 16-game loan spell at Portman Road last season, is one of two defenders short-listed by Town boss Joe Royle.

But Royle accepts he may have to switch to Plan B and admitted today: “It's not looking good.

“Our chairman is speaking to Portsmouth's chief executive, but as things stand it will need a big change in the situation if David is going to be joining us.”

The problem is that 31-year-old Unsworth, capped once by England when he was at first club Everton and Royle was the Goodison Park boss, has 12 months of his lucrative Fratton Park contract remaining.

Pompey have said he can move on a free transfer, but the player is not going to turn his back on potential earnings of around £700,000 by quitting the south coast outfit.

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A season-long loan deal is another possibility, but Portsmouth are adamant they will not pay any of his wages to subsidise such a move.

Unsworth's salary is way beyond what Town can afford, so the situation is deadlocked for the time being.

Pompey may relent and cut their losses, either by giving Unsworth a pay-off to leave or by paying a proportion of his wages to push through a loan transfer.

But for the time being, at least, they are standing firm and only time will tell whether they change their mind.

Meanwhile, rather than welcome new faces, Town have been saying their farewells to Sunderland new boys Kelvin Davis and Tommy Miller.

Royle said: “Kelvin called in the other day and Tommy was here last week. Shefki is back in the country today and we might see him as well.

“All the players who have moved on served the club well. It's a shame - we certainly didn't want to lose them - but we understand they left to further their careers and play at a higher level.”

Royle, buoyed by skipper Jim Magilton's decision to sign up for another year, has been varying the training since his players returned last week.

He said: “On Friday, Saturday and Monday the lads were in the swimming pool at 8am and then had breakfast together.

“It won't happen every day - today's a hard athletic day, for example - but it gets them up and gets them together.

“Swimming is good exercise that can help clear up any aches and pains and it's something I've used regularly in my managerial career, all the way back to my time at Oldham.”

Royle intends using next week's first friendly clash at Cambridge United to run the rule over a number of his players. He said: “It will give me an opportunity to see some of the younger players in action. I envisage a different side in each half.”

Ipswich's Carling Cup first round clash with Yeovil will go ahead at Portman Road on Wednesday, August 24, the club has confirmed.

The Championship fixture between Cardiff and Ipswich has been switched from Saturday, November 26, to avoid clashing with the rugby international between Wales and Australia at the Millennium Stadium that day. The game will now go ahead at Ninian Park on Sunday, November 27, kick-off 3pm.

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