Pab-blow for Ipswich

IPSWICH have failed in a sensational bid to lure Pablo Counago back to Portman Road - but could try again in the summer.Manager Jim Magilton today confirmed he wanted to re-sign Counago, who is now with Malaga, after he was shown the door by ex-boss Joe Royle less than two years ago.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH have failed in a sensational bid to lure Pablo Counago back to Portman Road - but could try again in the summer.

Manager Jim Magilton today confirmed he wanted to re-sign Counago, who is now with Malaga, after he was shown the door by ex-boss Joe Royle less than two years ago.

Magilton said: “I went after Pablo for a very good reason - he's a quality player and I felt he could be a real asset to us.

“It didn't work out this time but he is out of contract in the summer and we could revisit the situation then. I would certainly not rule it out.

“There were a few complications, one of them being that Malaga weren't keen to let go of him but that will not be a problem in the summer when he will be a free agent.

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“I think he's a very, very good player but I had to be sure that he wanted to come back for the right reasons and when I spoke to him it was clear he has a real hunger about him to return and perhaps prove a few people wrong.

“I know Pablo's qualities and I know what he could bring to the team and after chatting with him I was sure it made sense.

“He didn't leave here in the best of circumstances but he showed in his time with us that he was more than capable of playing at this level.

“We tried to get things sorted out but it wasn't possible, but it's something we may have another look at come the summer.”

The 27-year-old Spaniard was keen to return, even though he knew his wages would be only a fraction of the £20,000-a-week deal he was on before.

But Town were unable to agree a deal with Malaga and Magilton instead switched his attention to Chester's Jonathan Walters, who signed a week ago.

Counago made 121 appearances - 69 starts and a further 52 as a substitute - and scored 36 goals during his four years with Ipswich.

His days were clearly numbered when Royle axed him and was critical of his fitness and attitude, and it was no surprise that in May 2005 he was told there was to be no new contract offer.

The previous year Ipswich made him available on a free transfer towards the end of the August transfer window but there were no takers.

The last of the club's Premiership players to move on, his £1 million-a-year salary proved a huge burden after Town's dramatic plunge into administration in February 2003.

Counago was originally signed on a Bosman-style free transfer from Celta Vigo after then boss George Burley and his staff had seen him score for Spain against England in an under-21 international.

He arrived soon after Ipswich had finished fifth in their first season back in the big-time but within a year they were relegated and the player was still waiting to break his scoring duck.

Counago went on to score 21 goals in the 2002-2003 campaign but his relationship with Royle later turned sour and he rejected a chance to join Preston on loan.

He managed just three goals in 28 games for Malaga last season, when they were relegated, and this term has netted four times in 13 appearances.

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