Royle: Shefki is invaluable

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today declared in-form top scorer Shefki Kuqi “invaluable” to his promotion-chasing side.Things have certainly changed since the Finnish international looked to be on his way from Portman Road in the summer.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today declared in-form top scorer Shefki Kuqi “invaluable” to his promotion-chasing side.

Things have certainly changed since the Finnish international looked to be on his way from Portman Road in the summer.

His double blast in last night's comfortable 5-1 defeat of Sheffield United took his season's tally to eight.

Kuqi could have joined South Korean club Daewoo Royals in July, but he rejected the move, and it was the same story when Bundesliga outfit Hansa Rostock made a move on the eve of the current campaign.

Royle said today: “Shefki's going nowhere and it wasn't a case of me trying to get rid of him earlier this year.

“There was someone else I could have got to replace him and the information I was getting from Shefki's side, through his agent, was that he would have welcomed a move.

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“I think the world of him and there's no doubt he has done well for us recently. But he had a poor finish to last season and he hadn't gone well in pre-season, and I was led to believe he wouldn't mind moving on.

“But since then he has settled down and worked hard, which he always does. His confidence is high at the moment and on current form he is invaluable to us.”

The way Kuqi's strike partnership with the lively Darren Bent has blossomed in recent weeks has been a major plus.

Meanwhile, Royle is ready to move into the loan market as soon as the situation at Portman Road warrants it.

He added: “We are on constant watch, checking out possible targets, and we are always re-assessing our needs as they will change with injuries.

“We know who we would like to get in, but at the moment we don't need them and until we do there is no need to do anything. But if the situation should change we are ready.”

Town defender Jason De Vos is a doubt for Saturday's away clash with Burnley after limping out of last night's game midway through the first half.

Royle added: “Jason has a dead leg and it should not be any more than a couple of weeks, although we'll know more today.

“He's certainly worse than Tommy (Miller) and Fabian (Wilnis) were at the weekend after their injuries against Preston.”

Both players made rapid recoveries to play last night and Matt Richards' introduction sparked a defensive reshuffle to compensate for the premature loss of De Vos.

Neil Warnock admitted last night's defeat was “soul destroying” as his team crashed to their heaviest defeat under him.

The Blades' boss, who will celebrate five years in charge at Bramall Lane next month, added: “It's a good job I'm an experienced manager.

“If I was a young guy just starting out I'd want to commit suicide after going through that.”

Portman Road has not been a happy hunting ground in recent years for the often-controversial Warnock.

He smiled as he said: “That's the last time I bring my team here and try to play football. You watch, I'll be boring next time and do a Burnley.”

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