Town target two former stars

IPSWICH Town want to bring former stars Jamie Clapham and Tommy Miller back to Portman Road.Blues boss Joe Royle is keeping a close eye on both players' situations after their clubs, Birmingham and Sunderland were relegated from the Premiership.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH Town want to bring former stars Jamie Clapham and Tommy Miller back to Portman Road.

Blues boss Joe Royle is keeping a close eye on both players' situations after their clubs, Birmingham and Sunderland were relegated from the Premiership.

Royle returns from holiday this week for top-level talks with chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden.

Top of the agenda will be Royle's transfer plans, with Clapham and Miller just two of several targets.

The Town boss needs to know how much he will have available to spend before pressing ahead with moves to bring in reinforcements.

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Ipswich are still operating on a tight financial schedule and Royle's budget is likely to see him focus mainly on out-of-contract players available on free transfers.

But he confirmed today: “I have my eye on one player who would cost us a fee and I am keen to make things happen sooner, rather than later.”

Royle is looking to bring in a central defender, a left-back and a midfielder in the next few weeks.

Lincoln-born Clapham could fill one of the vacancies as he has spent virtually his entire career on the left of defence or as a wing-back.

He first arrived at Ipswich on loan from Tottenham, where he launched his career, in January 1998.

Clapham performed so well that then Town boss George Burley pushed through a £300,000 permanent deal two months later.

He had clocked up more than 250 first team appearances by the time Birmingham's £1.3 million offer was accepted in January 2003.

At the time it was hoped the deal would prevent Town from going into administration, but the costly move was only delayed by a couple of months.

Clapham had 95 senior outings for the Midlands club but disappeared from the first team scene after Liverpool's 7-0 romp in an FA Cup quarter-final at St Andrews in March.

Now that he is part of the anticipated Birmingham clear-out, Royle will be first in the queue with an offer that could tempt the player.

Clapham's popularity with supporters was confirmed seven years ago when he won their Player of the Year accolade at the end of his first full season at Portman Road.

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