Scottish giants target Pablo

SCOTTISH giants Rangers and Celtic are both on the trail of Ipswich striker Pablo Counago.The 25-year-old Spaniard has already knocked back an approach from the Ibrox club, but their Old Firm rivals are also keen.

SCOTTISH giants Rangers and Celtic are both on the trail of Ipswich striker Pablo Counago.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has already knocked back an approach from the Ibrox club, but their Old Firm rivals are also keen.

Town boss Joe Royle confirmed today: “I have spoken to Alex McLeish (Rangers manager) about Pablo and I believe they have also spoken to his agent.

“They wanted him to go up there on trial for two or three days, but Pablo's not interested in that.

“Rangers asked about him going there on trial, not on loan. A loan was never mentioned.”

Royle said he had not spoken to anyone from Celtic, but I understand they are monitoring events with interest.

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They were today unveiling Brazilian star Juninho, recently released by Middlesbrough, as their latest signing.

But Parkhead boss Martin O'Neill is known to want at least one more addition to his squad before the transfer window closes in a week's time.

Counago, by far the highest-paid player at Portman Road, is in the final ten months of the lucrative four-year deal - worth close to £20,000 a week - he signed in 2001 upon his arrival on a free transfer from Celta Vigo.

Ipswich confirmed last week that they would allow him to depart on a free transfer, so anxious are they to remove him from their wage bill.

The sooner Counago departs, the more chance there if of Royle being able to bring in reinforcements to bolster his depleted squad.

But the former Spanish Under-21 cap could, if he wishes, remain at Portman Road until next summer before departing for pastures new.

Rangers, weighed down with debts of around £70m, could renew their interest in the player if they make it into the Champions League.

They meet CSKA Moscow in a qualifier at Ibrox tonight, looking to overhaul the Russians' 2-1 lead from the first leg, and a place in the competition proper would be worth millions.

Counago made his first start of the season for Ipswich in last night's 2-0 Carling Cup first round KO of League One outfit Brentford.

But he failed to impress any watching scouts, to the extent that Royle replaced him with Shefki Kuqi at half-time with the scoreline blank.

It has been a miserable few months for Counago, top scorer in the 2002-2003 campaign but absent for the latter stages of last season with a hamstring injury.

He earned his chance last night after an impressive contribution against Cardiff on Saturday, when he came off the bench to launch the move from which Tommy Miller regained the lead for Town in a welcome 3-1 win.

Now it promises to be an intriguing few days to see whether Counago will be on his way, or whether he will be staying put until at least January, when the transfer window re-opens.

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