Pompey target Stewart

SOCCER: Portsmouth want Marcus Stewart to fire them towards the Premiership.Boss Harry Redknapp is lining up a £1million bid for the out-of-favour Ipswich striker.

By Mel Henderson

PORTSMOUTH want Marcus Stewart to fire them towards the Premiership.

Boss Harry Redknapp is lining up a £1million bid for the out-of-favour Ipswich striker.

He is hoping to cash in on Town's financial woes – they must unload players after being relegated last season – by clinching a cut-price deal.

Stewart, 29, was an unused substitute in Saturday's win at Walsall and is available at a knockdown fee.

The stumbling block is whether the player, who has two years left on his contract, would be prepared to take a pay cut in return for regular first team football.

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Redknapp went on a summer recruitment drive and has bolstered his squad with nine signings, among them ex-England star Paul Merson.

And his new-look side made a useful start to the new campaign, beating Nottingham Forest and drawing at Sheffield United.

But the former West Ham boss is keen to keep strengthening – and admits Stewart is the man he wants.

Redknapp said: "I'd like another striker and Marcus Stewart would be perfect. He wouldn't cost a fortune and would take us where we want to go.

"He's not in the team at the moment – and Ipswich would like to reduce their wage bill.

"I'm sure they wouldn't want a massive amount – there's no market at the moment for transfer fees, so we'll see how that develops."

Stewart cost £2.75million from Huddersfield in February 2000 and has since scored 36 goals in 89 appearances.

He netted 21 times in Town's first season back in the Premiership, but a form slump last season, as well as a period of inactivity because of a broken jaw, restricted him to just ten goals.

Saturday's snub at the Bescot Stadium confirmed he is now behind Marcus Bent, Darren Bent, Alun Armstrong and Pablo Counago in the strikers' pecking order.

But Redknapp, a renowned transfer market wheeler-dealer, is attracted to Stewart because of his track record – almost 200 goals in a career that started with Bristol Rovers.

The Pompey boss added: "It's a buyers' market at the moment. Players are taking deals that they would not have dreamt of a year ago. The money just isn't there.

"There's no money outside the Premiership and you can do great deals. You haven't got to pay silly money any more."