Stick with Blues, Bent urged

DARREN Bent, one of crisis club Ipswich Town's most saleable assets, was today told by his agent: "Stick with Joe Royle."Jonathan Barnett said: "I represent Darren and work in his best interests.

By Dave Allard

DARREN Bent, one of crisis club Ipswich Town's most saleable assets, was today told by his agent: "Stick with Joe Royle."

Jonathan Barnett said: "I represent Darren and work in his best interests. Of course I'm well aware that he is very much a big target for many clubs wanting to get him at a bargain price.

"And, at the end of the day as they say, a decision would be down to him, but he's progressing and

progressing under a good boss in Joe Royle at Portman Road and I think it would be in his best

interests for that to continue."

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The 19-year-old Bent has hit 16 goals this season and is the prime target for clubs now able to buy Town men and play them despite the transfer window being closed.

That is because the under administration Blues, who are haemorrhaging to death financially, are officially regarded as "a club in distress" and a special case.

Being classified as such they can sell now, and those players can play, with the £4million-rated Bent being eyed by a host of Premiership scouts in the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.

Barnett said: "Ipswich are in big, big trouble and it's sad to see, as for so long they did so well. So many clubs are weighing up possible offers for players and anything could happen.

"We agents don't just think about bigger contracts, our own percentages and stuff like that. It's also about what is right for a particular player at a certain time.

"Darren is only just turned 19. He's been capped by England Under 21's and has a great career ahead of him. He's getting regular first team football under Joe Royle at Ipswich. He couldn't be learning his trade under a better man.

"There will undoubtedly be offers for him and Ipswich may have to accept one of them. But I genuinely believe that it would serve his career better if he remains here for the time being at least to continue to develop a talent that will one day become a very top one I'm sure."

Blues chief Royle, who is all too aware that money has to come in and quickly, knows that Bent's goals can play a big part in a play-off place achievement and even Premiership football again at the end of the season.

He said today: "It's nice of Jonathan Barnett to say what he said regarding Darren and myself. The kid works so hard that you sometimes have to drag him off the training ground in case he overdoes it a bit."

While Barnett has made his position clear with Bent, other agents will have their own ideas regarding other players.

Several clubs were showing an interest in defender Hermann Hreidarsson, particularly Portsmouth.

But he is now out for six weeks duo an injury.

There is an interest from Fulham in striker Marcus Bent, but no bid had been received.

With it being open sale season again at Portman Road, any offer could come from anywhere.

On the playing side, Town look ahead to Saturday's trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

Chris Makin (hamstring), Matt Richards (swollen calf) and Darren Ambrose (knee) are under treatment after the Palace draw.

Tommy Miller (hamstring) and John McGreal (knee) are unlikely to return.

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