More stars could leave, warns Royle

IPSWICH Town boss Joe Royle promised today: "With one, two or three players sold there will still be enough for a play-off challenge."The Jamie Clapham transfer to Birmingham went through late yesterday after much haggling between the player's agent Andrew Mills and the Midlands club.

By Dave Allard

IPSWICH Town boss Joe Royle promised today: "With one, two or three players sold there will still be enough for a play-off challenge."

The Jamie Clapham transfer to Birmingham went through late yesterday after much haggling between the player's agent Andrew Mills and the Midlands club.

The £1.3million fee is an offering to the cash crisis Blues' bank manager.

Royle, however, is well aware that other big names may have to follow Clapham out of Portman Road during the transfer window.

The Premiership goal is a big one for mid-table First Division Town, but financial survival is paramount as chairman David Sheepshanks told shareholders in a frank address at the annual meeting last month.

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"When I took this job just over two months ago I was under no illusions whatsoever. I know the problems the board face and helping that situation is all-important," said Royle.

"Naturally we would have to listen to other offers, but I think we still have a squad strong enough here to make a challenge this season."

Left sided midfield man or defender Clapham has, according to Royle, "been a great servant to this club. He's a smashing lad who has done a great job for me since I've been here.

"It's sad to lose him but it's not all despair. Hermann Hreidarsson, like Jamie, can play in a number of left-sided positions. We have the likes of Darren Ambrose and Jermaine Wright who are key people in the squad. Young Matt Richards is coming on well and Nabil Abidallah is a smashing little footballer who has the opportunity to break through."

Clapham, who will have a medical today and sign officially tomorrow for Birmingham, said today: "They have given me a very good deal, especially in the current market. I'd like to thank all the Ipswich fans who have been brilliant to me, and all the staff at the club who've been excellent."

The former blues player of the year had special praise for Royle. He said: "My confidence had dipped and he gave it to me back. He brought the best out in me and I owe him a lot."

Royle now looks ahead to Saturday's First Division clash at Burnley as his side bid to increase their unbeaten run to eight.

Central defender Chris Makin is again suspended.

Midfield man Tommy Miller is expected to be fit again after a knee problem.

Centre-half Thomas Gaardsoe is ready to get back into training again after his groin injury.

The Dane is hopeful of playing but still remains a concern.

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