Royle rules out winter sales

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today allayed fears of January sales at Portman Road.Royle is pressing ahead with his efforts to make permanent the signing of on-loan trio Shefki Kuqi, Alan Mahon and Chris Bart-Williams.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today allayed fears of January sales at Portman Road.

Royle is pressing ahead with his efforts to make permanent the signing of on-loan trio Shefki Kuqi, Alan Mahon and Chris Bart-Williams.

But he took time out to assure supporters: "None of the deals we are working on are


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dependent on anyone going when the transfer window opens in January."

Royle's statement should put paid to rumours that Town's finances remained in such a

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precarious state that departures were inevitable.

The club insist they are in a position to bring in the three

on-loan players, from Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn and Charlton respectively, without having to unload any of their main assets.

Royle added: "We are very close to agreeing things for Shefki, although we are still talking to his club, his agent and the player himself.

"As I said earlier this week, it's a question of taking one at a time. For a number of reasons, it was most practical to start with Shefki and things are

progressing well."

Midfielder Mahon, meanwhile, completed 70 minutes of last night's 1-0 home reserve defeat by Chelsea to play himself into Royle's first team plans at the weekend.

The former Republic of Ireland international has missed five senior appearances with a hamstring injury, but Royle said: "There were no problems with it last night.

"Alan is still very unfit and needs games, but he did enough to book his place in the squad for Saturday's game at Cardiff."

French central defender Georges Santos, a big hit since his summer signing, is still fighting to prove his fitness for the trip to Wales.

He picked up a foot injury in the 3-0 win over one of his former clubs, Sheffield United, and Royle added: "He won't train until tomorrow and remains our biggest doubt."

Meanwhile, Irish youngster Gerard Nash faces a cartilage operation tomorrow that will sideline him for a few weeks.

Royle said Nash, 17, picked up the injury in training a fortnight ago and, after trying to soldier on, had broken down.

Ipswich were relieved to hear that second choice goalkeeper Lewis Price's one-game ban will not apply at first team level.

Price will serve a suspension after his dismissal in last week's home reserve draw with Portsmouth, when he was sent off for a professional foul.

A Football Association spokesman confirmed: "With the exception of dismissals for violent conduct or serious foul play, players sent off in reserve games serve their bans at the same level."

Ironically, Town chairman David Sheepshanks served on the relevant FA committee that introduced the common-sense ruling.

When Price's name appeared on an FA suspension list it was at first feared he would have to sit out next week's away clash with Nottingham Forest, meaning that 16-year-old Shane Supple would have been on the bench at the City Ground.

Instead Price will miss a reserve game, which should allow the young Irish keeper to make his full debut at that level.

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