Royle refuses to rule out sales

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today admitted he is not in a position to rule out further summer sales.Royle conceded: "It's impossible to say – but we still have to get our wage bill in order, that's for sure.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today admitted he is not in a position to rule out further summer sales.

Royle conceded: "It's impossible to say – but we still have to get our wage bill in order, that's for sure.

"You can never really tell what is going to happen, but there is always a need to bring in money. It's just that the need is not as urgent now as it was a few weeks ago."

The cut-price £750,000 sale of skipper Matt Holland to Charlton, together with the resultant £1million-a-year saving in salary, has eased the club's cash plight.

A box office stampede – season ticket sales are 17,000 and still rising – has also brought in valuable funds.

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But Town remain committed to slashing their annual wage bill to £5m – it was £24m a year ago – and would find it hard to resist offers.

As Royle pointed out, however, the transfer market is virtually dead and Ipswich would prefer to unload those players who have been offered free transfers, despite having a year remaining on their contracts.

Goalkeepers Andy Marshall and James Pullen, midfielders Martijn Reuser and Nabil Abidallah and striker Alun Armstrong have all been told they can leave for nothing.

But Royle reported: "There have been no inquiries for anyone. It's been very quiet, but things will get serious a bit later on this month.

"Managers are looking at their squads – what they have and don't have – and then they will move to replace players. It's still early days."

Royle and his players, who returned to training on Wednesday of last week, today transferred their pre-season preparations to Orwell Park School.

The surroundings were familiar to most of the Town players, but new to Royle and his assistant Willie Donachie and recent capture Drissa Diallo will meet up with his new colleagues tomorrow.

Royle added: "The lads are all up to scratch. They've all done something and are showing up well.

"We had a not-so-gentle break-in last week and they know what to expect this week – we'll step it up and things are going to get a lot more serious."

Former Ipswich winger Finidi George has turned down a chance to continue his career in the Middle East.

Several clubs in the Gulf region targeted the ex-Nigerian international, who accepted a

£1 million pay-off to quit Portman Road last month.

But his Dutch-based agent, Winny Haatrecht, said: "Finidi was not fit when he left Ipswich and is now training hard. He wants to be 100 per cent before he decides what to do.

"It will take him another three or four weeks to be completely fit. Then he hopes to receive offers from Spain or elsewhere in Europe."

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