Royle in late bid to save loan deal

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is still hopeful that a proposed loan deal will go ahead.Royle has targeted a mystery man to reinforce Town's promotion push and last night it seemed the move had fallen through.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is still hopeful that a proposed loan deal will go ahead.

Royle has targeted a mystery man to reinforce Town's promotion push and last night it seemed the move had fallen through.

But the Portman Road boss insisted: "It's not dead. Negotiations are still ongoing and there remains a chance that the player will be joining us.

"All will become clear in due course but regardless of whether this deal happens or not I am still confident we will have someone in before the transfer deadline."

Deals have to be completed by March 25, which gives Royle a fortnight in which to continue his efforts to strengthen his squad.

Ipswich had agreed a deal with another club, but the player concerned felt unable to commit himself.

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But Royle is adamant the temporary transfer is still alive and added: "The player has had a slight injury and he just wants to be sure he is okay.

"I definitely think there is still a chance. We're still closer than we have been for some time and I really thought we were there yesterday."

Royle also revealed he has two further players he is pursuing, although a successful conclusion to the current deal being discussed might rule out further moves.

It would provide Town with a massive boost if they could introduce a new face for the final lap of a promotion race in which they have surrendered valuable ground.

A recent run of four defeats in six games has seen them drop to seventh – and they could be eighth if Sunderland defeat Preston this evening – but all is far from lost with 11 games still to play.

Interestingly, they are three points better off now than at the same stage last season when they narrowly missed out.

Saturday's home clash with sixth-placed Millwall, who are just two goals better off, presents Town with an ideal opportunity to rejoin the play-off pack.

But striker Pablo Counago could miss out at the weekend after being forced off in last night's 2-2 reserve draw at Derby by a hamstring injury.

Royle said: "It's still too early to say whether Pablo is going to be available or not. We will assess the situation later."

Counago netted the opening goal at Pride Park and teenage striker Dean Bowditch was the other Ipswich marksman.

Meanwhile, injured defender Chris Makin revived his hopes of making a senior comeback before the end of the season by putting in a full shift at training yesterday.

The full-back, who last featured at first team level back in August, is waiting for an appointment with the country's top hip specialist.

Royle said: "Chris will still be seeing the specialist, but it was certainly encouraging that he was able to train with the rest of the squad yesterday."

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