Royle rejects Gerrard return

PAUL Gerrard is not on his way to Ipswich, manager Joe Royle revealed today.And Royle also ruled a move for another of his old boys, Manchester City's want-away striker Shaun Goater.

By Mel Henderson

PAUL Gerrard is not on his way to Ipswich, manager Joe Royle revealed today.

And Royle also ruled a move for another of his old boys, Manchester City's want-away striker Shaun Goater.

The Ipswich boss is still looking to bring an experienced goalkeeper to Portman Road during the close season.

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Royle wants to keep number one Andy Marshall on his toes and has offered deputy James Pullen, who still has a year of his contract to run, a free transfer.

But 30-year-old Gerrard, who made five loan appearances for Town towards the end of 2002, will not be returning on a permanent basis.

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His temporary stint led to inevitable speculation that Gerrard, who was with Royle at both Oldham and Everton, would be top of Ipswich's summer shopping list.

Royle said: "I know Paul well and I like him a lot, but he's not out of contract and he is on Premiership wages. It would be very hard for us to bring him here."

The Town boss also dismissed reports suggesting he was keen to do battle with arch-rivals Norwich for the signature of Sheffield Wednesday central defender Leigh Bromby.

Opposite number Nigel Worthington has made no secret of his interest in the 22-year-old who was on loan at Carrow Road towards the end of last season and made the first of his five appearances in the East Anglian derby.

But Royle, while admitting he is also keen to add a central defender to his squad, insisted: "There's nothing in it."

The Ipswich manager did, however, confirm his interest in Burnley's out-of-contract star, Drissa Diallo.

The Evening Star exclusively revealed last week that the Guinea international was a target for Royle, who admitted: "I have a short list drawn up.

"Diallo is one that we know about and we would like him – but he's not the only one and there's nothing likely to happen for a while yet."

Diallo, who was only signed in January and made his debut against Town at Turf Moor, is currently back home in Paris considering an offer to extend his stay with Burnley.

He is aware of Ipswich's interest, but Royle can do nothing until the club exits administration and the Football League see fit to lift a transfer embargo.

Royle's hands are tied for the time being and he also dismissed speculation linking him with a move for prolific Bermudan international Goater.

It was Royle who took the giant striker to Maine Road in 1998 – "one of the best buys I ever made" – but the pair will not be reunited at Portman Road.

Wages are an obvious stumbling block and Royle said: "I'd always take a 30-goal-a-season man but Shaun is way out of our range.

"In any case, a forward player is not our priority. With the continued improvement of both Bents, along with Pablo Counago, and the emergence of Dean Bowditch, that's not a big issue.

"If you look at last season, we had one of the best scoring records in the First Division. But we also had one of the worst defensive records in the top half – we must tighten up at the back.

"My priority is to sign a keeper and a central defender. I think I can get by with one new defender, unless we lost players in that area of the team."

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