Royle: My keeper search goes on

PUBLISHED: 20:00 09 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle has called a temporary halt to his goalkeeper search.

But he confirmed today that the much-travelled Ben Roberts could still be on his way to Portman Road.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle has called a temporary halt to his goalkeeper search.

But he confirmed today that the much-travelled Ben Roberts could still be on his way to Portman Road.

Roberts has emerged as a candidate after Birmingham's Ian Bennett opted to accept a new two-year deal at St Andrews, as exclusively revealed in Saturday's Star.

However, it is highly unlikely that Town will sign a new goalkeeper before the end of the month, Royle admitted today from his holiday home in Majorca.

He said: "Ben Roberts has been on my shortlist and we'll see about that, but Ian Bennett's decision simply means that the search goes on.

"Suffice to say that I have contingency plans, but there is no need to rush it. I will be back at the end of the month and we'll take it from there."

Bishop Auckland-born Roberts, 27, was released by Charlton last month and has played less than 100 senior games in a career launched at Middlesbrough in the early 1990s.

He played for Boro in the FA Cup Final six years ago, conceding a goal inside the first minute as Roberto Di Matteo blasted Chelsea on their way to a comfortable 2-0 success.

Former England Under-21 keeper Roberts had loan spells at Hartlepool, Wycombe, Bradford, Millwall and Luton before completing a free transfer move to Charlton in 2000.

Since then he has played for Reading, Luton and Brighton on loan and his only Premiership appearance for Charlton came on the final day of last season, when he was used as a substitute following the 31st minute dismissal of Dean Kiely in the 1-0 home defeat by Fulham.

Still on the goalkeeping front at Portman Road, reports in Italy suggest Matteo Sereni's impressive form during a season on loan to Brescia has alerted Serie A rivals Lazio.

The Rome club, who will be playing in the Champions League next season, are apparently keen on Sereni as back-up to Italian international Angelo Peruzzi.

Ipswich, who paid a record £5million to sign Sereni from Sampdoria less than two years ago, are keen to obtain a fee when he eventually moves on again.

But despite ordering him to report back to Portman Road for pre-season training on July 2, they are also keen to remove the £20,000-a-week keeper from their wage bill.

That is why skipper Matt Holland, another player pocketing a similarly high salary, is on his way to Premiership newcomers Portsmouth in a bargain £750,000 move.

Manager Royle dismissed speculation that Tottenham are poised to scupper that move by making a late bid to snatch the Republic of Ireland international.

He said: "Spurs have had plenty of time to come in for Matt and we haven't heard from them. As far as I'm concerned he's going to Portsmouth and that's that."

Holland will be in action for the Irish on Wednesday, when they take on Georgia in a Euro 2004 qualifier in Dublin, then two days later he will be at Fratton Park for a routine medical and to complete the deal.

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