Royle's battle to keep Wright

IPSWICH face a fight to keep out-of-contract star Jermaine Wright at Portman Road.Town boss Joe Royle would love to keep the classy 28-year-old midfielder on board, but accepts it is not going to be easy satisfying his wage demands.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH face a fight to keep out-of-contract star Jermaine Wright at Portman Road.

Town boss Joe Royle would love to keep the classy 28-year-old midfielder on board, but accepts it is not going to be easy satisfying his wage demands.

Royle has already started making plans for next season after the major disappointment of seeing his side crash out of the play-offs at West Ham on Tuesday.

He admitted: “Jamma is going to be a hard one. He is a player who has been on one of the larger contracts from the club's time in the Premiership.”

In other words Town, still keeping a careful eye on finances, may not be able to compete with other clubs equipped with more spending power.

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There will be no shortage of speculation surrounding Ipswich in the coming weeks, especially since Wright is only one of nine first team squad players whose present deals are about to expire.

And the guessing game will be extended to young stars Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Ian Westlake and Matt Richards, all of whom have their admirers in the Premiership.

Town will be reluctant to part company with any of their academy graduates, preferring instead that they form the nucleus of Royle's team next term.

But 16-goal top scorer Darren Bent is already being linked with a £1.5 million move to Charlton, although no such offer has yet been forthcoming from the Londoners.

Royle's priority is to decide the futures of his out-of-contract players, but he is also scanning a list of possible reinforcements for the new campaign.

One list, to which he would have been committed had Town's promotion bid succeeded, has already been discarded.

Instead the Town boss has several candidates in mind to plug the gaps in defence and attack that Royle has identified.

He said: “We had contingency plans made either way, whether we won promotion or not. We need change, there's always room for change and it keeps everyone on their toes.

“It is time to move on. Realistically, despite what we have done this year, we are a bit short up front. We need someone to get hold of the ball.”

Royle made no secret of his admiration for ex-Town favourite James Scowcroft, who was relegated from the Premiership with Leicester.

He added: “I'd love Scowcroft but we can't afford him and I doubt if Leicester would want to sell. I've always liked him and asked about him when I was at Manchester City, but he wasn't available then.”

Royle has people in mind and has already put out feelers regarding players whose present deals are coming to an end and he believes can strengthen his squad.

He went on: “I am watching the situation very closely and have agents keeping me informed of possible moves. But I also need to let the dust settle before I can do anything.

“I haven't even spoken to the lads whose contracts are up so that's something I need to do fairly soon. The players need to know our intentions.

“While I have possible new singings in mind, it is still too early to go down that road. The immediate priority is to speak to players whose contracts are almost up and let them know whether or not we will be offering them a new one.

“These decisions are likely to be made public next week, once I have been able to speak to everyone.”

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