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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Teen stars pledge to stay with Town

PUBLISHED: 20:00 05 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:57 03 March 2010

IPSWICH teenagers Darren Bent and Matt Richards are staying put, agent Jonathan Barnett insisted today.

The pair have been offered new, improved contracts to remain at Portman Road as Town attempt to head off interest from a number of Premiership clubs.

By Martin White

IPSWICH teenagers Darren Bent and Matt Richards are staying put, agent Jonathan Barnett insisted today.

The pair have been offered new, improved contracts to remain at Portman Road as Town attempt to head off interest from a number of Premiership clubs.

And Barnett, who represents the pair, offered a strong hint that the former academy duo will be accepting the deals.

He said: "Darren's going nowhere and the same goes for Matt. My advice is the same to both boys – stay right where you are.

"As far as I am concerned they couldn't be in a better place for the time being. They will benefit far more from being members of Joe Royle's team next season."

Barnett acts for a number of top stars, including ex-Ipswich favourites Richard Wright, Kieron Dyer and Titus Bramble, as well as current skipper Matt Holland.

He will soon commence negotiations with Portsmouth, whose cut-price £750,000 offer for Holland was reluctantly accepted yesterday by Town.

But it seems neither Bent nor Richards will be joining the summer exodus. Barnett added: "Both players are considering the offers, but neither is in any hurry to leave and I can see them being Ipswich players for a while yet."

The news will come as a relief to Royle and Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks – for different reasons.

Royle sees Bent and Richards as key members of his side for what he believes can be a promotion-winning campaign.

And Sheepshanks, heavily criticised by some supporters after Town agreed a knockdown £750,000 deal with Portsmouth for skipper Holland, can do without any further flak.

He knows fans' fury would erupt if Town sanctioned the sale of other rising stars after Darren Ambrose's bargain £1 million move to Newcastle in March.

Bent and Ambrose, both 19, will be reunited again tonight when the England Under-21 squad reassembles in Sunderland ahead of next Tuesday's European Championship qualifier against Slovakia at the Stadium of Light.

Both were substitutes in this week's 3-2 friendly win over Serbia & Montenegro, Bent only leaving the bench in the 82nd minute and heading the all-important winner shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, Town youngster Dean Bowditch has been offered the incentive of a place in the England squad for this year's World Youth Championships.

Bowditch, who will sign a professional deal on his 17th birthday later this month, made a huge impact upon his introduction to the first team late last season.

England coach Les Reed said: "I want to take quality players to the tournament, but I realise that players like Glen Johnson, who have already stepped up to the Under-21s and have cemented first team spots at club level, may not be available.

"So I'm looking the other way, to the youth teams, with a view to fast-tracking some of the youngsters that we have coming through.

"It would be fantastic for players like Lee Croft (Manchester City), Luke Moore (Aston Villa), Dean Bowditch (Ipswich Town) and Steven Taylor (Newcastle) to have the experience of playing in the World Youth Championships."

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