Royle in swoop for mystery defender

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is refusing to reveal the identity of the Portman Road-bound Premiership star.But he confirmed today that it is NOT Southampton full-back Chris Baird, whose name featured widely in website reports over the weekend.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is refusing to reveal the identity of the Portman Road-bound Premiership star.

But he confirmed today that it is NOT Southampton full-back Chris Baird, whose name featured widely in website reports over the weekend.

Royle announced after Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Crystal Palace that he was in the process of arranging a season-long loan spell for a young Premiership defender.

That started a guessing game among supporters, with Baird just one of several names put forward on a website message board.

Chelsea pair Robert Huth and Glen Johnson, along with Arsenal teenager Gael Clichy, were also mentioned.

But Royle was happy to confirm today: “It is not Baird, Huth, Johnson or Clichy - but beyond that I am not prepared to say very much.

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“The player's identity is not out in the open yet and to be perfectly honest I would be happy if it stayed that way until the deal is finalised.

“We have made no approach for Baird and as for players like Huth, Johnson and Clichy, they are all going to be registered for the Champions League and would be out of our reach.”

Royle remains hopeful that the deal will be concluded this week and added: “There are still one or two things to be cleared up.

“I am not interested in getting involved in a yes-no interlude. I just want to get it all sorted before we go public with it.”

But one piece of transfer business that is likely to go ahead is Georges Santos' free transfer move to Coca-Cola Championship rivals Queen's Park Rangers.

Santos, who is represented by Ipswich legend Mick Mills, was reluctant to discuss a possible deal when quizzed at Portman Road on Saturday.

Royle said: “My understanding is that Georges is going to Loftus Road today for a medical and that's the impression I was given when I spoke to his agent.”

Santos' departure is one reason why Royle can press ahead with his move to bring in the mystery Premiership star, although he is also giving a trial to French striker Nicolas Gousse.

The 28-year-old netted four times last season for Guingamp as they were relegated from the top flight and was previously with Rennes, Metz and Troyes.

There is a chance that Gousse could feature in Wednesday's home clash with Newcastle United in the Dale Roberts Testimonial match, for which in excess of 15,000 tickets have already been sold.

Royle said: “It is a question of getting the necessary permission, but he will certainly be training with us this week and we will take it from there.”

Town reported a few “bumps and bruises” after Saturday's game, with Darren Bent having treatment on a stiff hamstring and Drissa Diallo also in some discomfort.

The Guinea international, whose fourth minute header put Ipswich on the road to an encouraging victory, was on the receiving end of a hefty challenge just before the break from Palace marksman Shaun Derry.

Royle added: “That was a horrible tackle and it deserved a booking, but Drissa will be okay for what is a big game and a big occasion.

“I am sure that our fans looked at the three pre-season friendlies to be played at Portman Road and found that to be the most mouth-watering.

“I am delighted for Dale's family that the tickets are selling so well.

“He was a lovely man and they deserve the support they are receiving.”

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