By Stuart Watson
Friday, December 21, 2012
IPSWICH Town manager Mick McCarthy has played a straight bat when reacting to rumours he is planning a January raid on former club Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Sources have told the Wolves Express and Star that a deal for 27-year-old right-back/centre-back Ronald Zubar is ‘nailed on’, while striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and versatile defender Richard Stearman could also be reunited with their former boss at Portman Road.
“I signed a lot of those players and I’m sure I’ll get linked with a lot of them,” said McCarthy. “I wouldn’t give any credence to any stories though because they’re Wolves players and I wouldn’t like people to talk about any of my players. I’ll always say that.”
McCarthy signed Zubar (£2m), Stearman (£1.6m) and Ebanks-Blake (£1.5m) during his six-year stay at Molineux, but the athletic and powerful trio don’t look to fit into new boss Stale Solbakken’s plan for a patient passing approach.
The Norwegian is expected to try and clear the decks when the January transfer window opens so that he begin moulding his own side, while McCarthy will also try and put his own stamp on the Blues having taken over at the start of November.
Zubar was officially made available for transfer just last week, while it’s understood that Ebanks-Blake is keen on a fresh start and Stearman is desperate for first-team football having found his chances limited this season.
Town have six players set to leave the club at various stages in the New Year in the form of keeper Stephen Henderson, defenders Bradley Orr and Danny Higginbotham, midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, striker DJ Campbell and the versatile Bilel Mohsni.
Zubar’s arrival could mean that loanee Orr will not be kept on beyond January 26 from parent club Blackburn Rovers, while Ebanks-Blake – twice winner of the Championship golden-boot – may be seen as a replacement for QPR loanee Campbell.
Campbell has scored eight goals in 13 games for Town, but Hoops boss Harry Redknapp has said he wishes the front-man – a boyhood supporter of the west London club – was still at Loftus Road as his side battle Premier League relegation.
There is also the fact that Campbell is aged 30, while Ebanks-Blake is still only 27. The latter may be seen as a better longer-term option.
Zubar and Ebanks-Blake are in the final year of their contracts, with their transfer fees likely to be reduced as a result – although Wolves chairman Jez Moxley notoriously drives a hard bargain.
Stearman – a former England Under-21 right-back/centre-back – still has 18 months left on his contract and, at 25 years old, is likely to be the most expensive of the trio.
Town have also been linked with Wolves midfielder Karl Henry and left-back George Elokobi, though the former has just signed a new four-year contract, while the latter has only just recovered from injury.