Bennett is Royle's No.1 target

BIRMINGHAM City keeper Ian Bennett has been targeted to replace Andy Marshall as Ipswich Town's No. 1, writes Derek Davis.Blues boss Joe Royle last night admitted the 31-year-old keeper was a player he was keen on approaching once the transfer embargo at Portman Road has been lifted.

BIRMINGHAM City keeper Ian Bennett has been targeted to replace Andy Marshall as Ipswich Town's No. 1, writes Derek Davis.

Blues boss Joe Royle last night admitted the 31-year-old keeper was a player he was keen on approaching once the transfer embargo at Portman Road has been lifted.

Royle said: "He is one of those on my short list. We have not agreed to have talks or anything like that as yet but Ian is one we have made enquiries about.

"Birmingham have offered him a new contract so now he must decide if he wants to stay there or if he wants first-team football here."


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Bennett last week took part in a testimonial match against Jamaica after 10 years at St Andrews. He joined in a £325,000 move from Peterborough and has made more than 350 appearances for the Blues.

He was offered a new two-year deal last week but knows he would have to settle for a supporting role as Steve Bruce is looking to bring in another keeper with Manchester United's Roy Carroll top of his list and Thomas Sorensen of Sunderland also a target.

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Regular City No. 1 Nico Vaesen is out until Christmas with a knee injury, and stop-gap keeper Andy Marriott, who was signed on a short -term contract from Barnsley, will not be kept on.

Born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Bennett started his career as a junior at Queens Park Rangers before joining Newcastle United on a free but did not make a first-team appearance. He went to Peterborough and played more than 100 games for them before the £325,000 move to Birmingham City in December 1993.

Royle has told Marshall and James Pullen they are free to find other clubs, while Matteo Sereni, on loan at Brescia, has made it clear he doesn't want to return and Ipswich are waiting for an offer from the Italian side, which has first refusal on him.

An Italian newspaper recently values him at around £5m but it is unlikely in the depressed market Ipswich would get quite that much for him.

Welsh teenager Lewis Price was promoted to the first-team squad for the final game of the season at Derby County as Royle showed he was looking to start afresh from the back.

Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden yesterday met with Football League officials in London to present an appraisal of their finances and explain how they expect to come out of administration on Friday, May 30.

A full League meeting on Wednesday, June 4 will consider if Ipswich will be allowed to trade in the transfer market once more. If allowed Royle will start to make moves to bring in a new keeper and a new centre-half.

n GUY Bonwick has decided to further his education at university after been told he would not be offered a contract by Ipswich Town.

The Academy defender, who suffered with a broken wrist earlier in the season, is hoping to be accepted at either Bath or Loughborough.

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