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Kuqi told: Forget it!

PUBLISHED: 20:30 20 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

IPSWICH have taken the unusual step of withdrawing their contract offer to top scorer Shefki Kuqi.

The Finland international decided last week to reject an extension to his Portman Road deal and has been in discussions with two clubs - Blackburn and Crystal Palace.

IPSWICH have taken the unusual step of withdrawing their contract offer to top scorer Shefki Kuqi.

The Finland international decided last week to reject an extension to his Portman Road deal and has been in discussions with two clubs - Blackburn and Crystal Palace.

But while his future remains unresolved, Town have said their offer is no longer on the table and are already some way down the road in their quest for a replacement.

Boss Joe Royle said: “I am not annoyed by Shefki's decision, but I am disappointed by it. I happen to think it's the wrong one, but that's his business.

“We made Shefki an offer and he rejected it so we responded by withdrawing our offer and pursuing other players to fill the gap.

“We could not have Shefki and one of the others - it was a case of one or the other.

“I did honestly think there was a good chance of us being able to keep Shefki at the club after the season he had with us.

“He was our top scorer with 20 goals and the fans made him their Player of the Year. It was the best season of his career.

“But when we made him the best offer we could he refused it and we felt we had no alternative but to immediately set about finding a replacement.”

Kuqi and his agent are known to have spoken with Blackburn boss Mark Hughes and Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie.

But he is only one of five strikers short-listed by Hughes, who also fancies Newcastle outcast Craig Bellamy and Southampton's Kevin Phillips.

Porto's Benni McCarthy is another candidate and Hughes is also considering a cut-price deal to take Andy Cole back to the club he quit for Fulham on a free transfer last summer.

Palace may need a replacement for England new boy Andrew Johnson, who has handed in a transfer request at Selhurst Park and is wanted by a host of Premiership outfits.

Meanwhile, Royle confirmed recent Evening Star reports that ex-Birmingham striker Nicky Forster has been approached about the possibility of moving to Portman Road to fill the gap caused by Darren Bent's £2.5million switch to Charlton.

The 31-year-old goal ace, who rejected a 12-month deal to extend his stay at Reading, is likely to sign a two-year Town deal.

Royle, in the last week of his holiday in Majorca, said: “We have spoken to Nicky and a couple of other players, but that's as much as I want to say for the time being.”

Powerfully-built Liverpool youngster Neil Mellor, who is also being hunted by Sheffield United, could be a contender to replace Kuqi.

Royle also confirmed that he has shelved plans, at least for the time being, to sign an experienced goalkeeper after the £1.25million sale of Kelvin Davis to Sunderland.

The Star reported on Friday that Ipswich would instead start the season with youngsters Lewis Price, a Wales Under-21 cap, and 18-year-old Shane Supple vying for the number one shirt.

Royle admitted: “We have made no approach at all for any goalkeeper, but there are no plans cast in stone.

“There is a school of thought that says 'Let the young lads have a go' and I am happy to go along with that.

“That way it would free up some of the money in our transfer budget to strengthen other areas of the squad.”

Should the inexperienced Price or the untried Supple, who played a leading part in Town's success in the FA Youth Cup, fail to deliver the goods, Royle could always opt to bring in a new keeper on loan.

Meanwhile, freed Ipswich defender Drissa Diallo has been linked with a move to Championship new boys Sheffield Wednesday.


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