Royle snubs Marshall for tour place

ROOKIE keeper Lewis Price will be thrust into the senior spotlight during Ipswich Town's pre-season Scandinavian tour.Price, born in Bournemouth but called into Welsh youth international squads, will celebrate his 19th birthday just two days into the three-game trip.

By Mel Henderson

ROOKIE keeper Lewis Price will be thrust into the senior spotlight during Ipswich Town's pre-season Scandinavian tour.

Price, born in Bournemouth but called into Welsh youth international squads, will celebrate his 19th birthday just two days into the three-game trip.

He is likely to make his first team debut in next Friday's game against Swedish minnows Mjallby as Town boss Joe Royle plans to take only one keeper on the tour.

That means both Andy Marshall and James Pullen, both of whom have been offered free transfers, will remain at home.

Manager Royle expects Italian keeper Matteo Sereni to have completed his move to Champions League qualifiers Lazio by the time the Town party departs for Copenhagen in a week's time.

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He said: "Things are still a bit up in the air with Matteo. Negotiations between him and Lazio are still ongoing.

"That means the situation is slightly complex. I certainly can't bring in a new keeper until Matteo's move is completed.

"He is returning to Italy this weekend in any case and the chances are he won't be back. If I was a betting on it I think he'll be gone.

"I will be trying to chase it along from the club's point of view. From the look on Matteo's face, anywhere in Italy will do him."

Meanwhile, the situation with Marshall and Pullen is no more clear-cut, although the former is on several clubs' wanted list.

Royle added: "Stoke enquired about ten days ago and I haven't heard anything since, although I see they let a keeper go yesterday."

Provided there are no late snags in the Sereni-to-Lazio deal, Royle's intention is to promote Price to senior duty in Scandinavia.

The young keeper started out at the Southampton academy and was taken on by Town, following a successful trial, in October 2001.

Royle said: "I haven't actually seen a lot of the lad, but he has done well in the reserves and earned himself another year.

"Now it's a case of trying to find out more about him. This is a good chance to take a close look at him, although it won't stop the search for a new first team keeper."

There is only a remote possibility of Ipswich having a new number one on the books before they jet off on tour.

Dutch midfielder Nabil Abidallah, another player offered a free transfer despite having a year left on his contract, has also been axed.

n Australian international Brett Emerton today joined Blackburn from Feyenoord.

The 24-year midfielder has signed a four-year contract and is expected to join the squad for pre-season training within the next few days. Rovers chief executive John Williams revealed the Lancashire club were "absolutely delighted" with Emerton's arrival.

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