Ipswich Town are ready to ramp up their pursuit of Rotherham United midfielder Matt Crooks.

The EADT and Ipswich Star revealed earlier this month that Blues boss Paul Cook had identified the 27-year-old as a prime summer target.

The South Yorkshire club will be reluctant to lose a player who played a key role in their League One promotion of 2019/20 and subsequently contributed seven goals and three assists in a team that suffered a heartbreaking final day Championship relegation.

The fact he is now heading into the final year of his deal may mean there's a deal to be done though.

Ipswich do face competition for Crooks' signature, both from the Championship and League One, with Derby (currently under a transfer embargo), Peterborough and Sunderland all understood to be interested.

The Blues are in a good position to strike first though having already cut their squad right back since the end of last season.

Town will no doubt have a tipping point on what they are prepared to pay - both in terms of fee and wages - and it's understood that they have other targets.

It's now believed that the fee recently paid for West Brom midfielder Rekeem Harper is actually less than the £500k widely reported and that limited add-ons mean it is highly unlikely to climb much higher than that.

That deal can now be used as a benchmark for further business.

Town may be backed by a well-funded new US-based ownership group in Gamechanger 20 Ltd, but Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP) rules still restrict them to spending a maximum of 60% of turnover on wages.

Mark Detmer has made it clear that 'it's not just about capital, it’s about culture', with fellow co-owner Berke Bakay saying money will be spent in 'a smart, intelligent, not wasteful manner'.

A total of 19 players have already departed Portman Road since the end of last season with more set to follow.

New Blues chief executive Mark Ashton has so far delivered four signings in the form of right-sided specialist Wes Burns (Fleetwood, undisclosed), playmaker Lee Evans (Wigan, free), box-to-box man Harper (West Brom, undisclosed) and striker Macauley Bonne (QPR, loan), while it's understood that deals are close for Salford City keeper Václav Hladký and former Sheffield Wednesday left-back Matt Penney.

Signing players with Championship experience could help to persuade the likes of Crooks, and others, to join the ambitious new project in Suffolk.

The Blues returned to training at the weekend and start their pre-season campaign with a friendly at non-league club Dartford on July 10.


IN (4): Wes Burns (Fleetwood, undisc), Lee Evans (Wigan, free), Rekeem Harper (West Brom, undisc), Macauley Bonne (QPR, loan).

OUT (13): Andre Dozzell (QPR, £1m), Luke Chambers (Colchester, free), Gwion Edwards (Wigan, free), Cole Skuse (Colchester, free), James Wilson (Plymouth, free), David Cornell (contract terminated), Freddie Sears (Colchester, free), Alan Judge (Colchester, free), Oli Hawkins (Mansfield, undisc), Jack Lankester (Cambridge Utd, undisc), Stephen Ward, Emyr Huws, Tristan Nydam (all released).

LOANS EXPIRED (6): Mark McGuinness, Luke Matheson, Josh Harrop, Keanan Bennetts, Luke Thomas, Troy Parrott.