Bent move allows Town to ponder loans

MARCUS Bent last night completed his season-long loan move to Leicester City and David Sheepshanks immediately gave Joe Royle the go-ahead to bring in new players, writes Derek Davis.

MARCUS Bent last night completed his season-long loan move to Leicester City and David Sheepshanks immediately gave Joe Royle the go-ahead to bring in new players, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues chairman said it was difficult to allow Bent to move but admitted his leaving would release funds for the manager to secure one, or even two, loan players.

The Foxes swooped for Bent after Jason Roberts chose to make a temporary move to Portsmouth, spurning City, Wolves and a permanent contract with Wigan Athletic.

Leeds United and Middlesbrough had also asked about Bent over the weekend but Boro boss Steve McClaren did not follow up his interest and when Peter Reid secured Cyril Chapuis from Marseille, that only left the Walkers Stadium option.


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Sheepshanks last night said: "Clearly Marcus is a talented player and in many ways it was hard to let him go. But it makes sense for the club to do this as he is one of the remaining high wage earners. The wages we will save over the season enables us to release money for Joe to bring in loan signings."

Ipswich will save around £500,000 in wages and if Leicester stay in the Premiership they will have first option to buy the striker, who hit 23 goals in 70 games for Town and will still have another year to run on his contract next summer.

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The reduction in the salary is another important step towards reducing the wage bill to £5m a year so not all the money saved will be given to Royle.

Sheepshanks added: "It is another important box ticked in terms of the business plan but Joe does not have a bottomless pit to play with. It was a positive move in allowing us to release money but we still have to be cautious."

City will be Bent's seventh club. The one-time England under-21 international joined Ipswich in November 2001, on the eve of their UEFA Cup win over Inter Milan at Portman Road.

The 25-year-old Londoner last night said: "It's an exciting challenge for me, being back in the Premiership with Leicester and proving that I can compete at that level.

"I am sorry to be leaving Ipswich at this time but I understand the financial situation at the club and the reasons behind the loan move."

Bent's departure means there is no longer pressure on Alun Armstrong to go and, along with Darren Bent, Pablo Counago and Dean Bowditch, with Sam Morrow also pushing for recognition, Royle is happy with his striker numbers.

Royle added: "It was not a case that we were desperate to get rid of Marcus but we needed to get one of the higher wage earners out.

"With the money that is now released I can have two loan players and change."

Blues reserve-team manager Steve McCall will have the choice of a few first-team fringe players available for the league game against Arsenal at Portman Road tomorrow night.

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