Blue linked to Big Dunc

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night refused to quash speculation that Duncan Ferguson is on his way to Portman Road.Sources in the north-west who are extremely close to Royle understand the Scot will join Town at the end of the season if they get promoted, on a one-year deal.

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night refused to quash speculation that Duncan Ferguson is on his way to Portman Road.

Sources in the north-west who are extremely close to Royle understand the Scot will join Town at the end of the season if they get promoted, on a one-year deal.

Ferguson may arrive in Ipswich even earlier with Royle considering making another attempt to land Ferguson on loan this season, even though he was unsuccessful in a bid last year.

Royle last night said he didn't want to talk about Ferguson but added: "I'm not thinking about next season yet."


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Ferguson, who is 33 today, was signed by Royle from Rangers and the ex-Everton boss would be keen to be reunited with the big forward.

The Scot's contract with the Toffeemen ends at the end of the season and the word in Liverpool is that he will not be offered a new deal.

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Although Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi have knocked in 22 goals between them so far this season, with the Finn showing a touch of class to back-heel in the consolation during the 3-1 defeat at Millwall, Royle was again critical of the duo in his post-match comments yesterday.

Royle said: "The front pair have not had their best day, either as a pair or individually, and we ended up 3-1 losers, which was totally misleading."

Kuqi is out of contract at the end of the season and has not yet heard about any new offers.

A goal moments before half time by Barry Hayles set Millwall on their way to handing Town just their fourth defeat of the season.

Second-half strikes by Danny Dichio and Scott Dobie completed the victory, although Town stay top of the Championship with Wigan losing at the JJB Stadium to George Burley's Derby and Sunderland suffering a defeat at home by Leeds United.

Royle could not believe Town had fallen again, especially as Tommy Miller should have had a penalty in the first half.

Royle said: "It was a very misleading scoreline to say the least as we were on the front foot for 45 minutes. I can't remember a more one-sided first half.

"I'm not blaming the referee for the penalty as he was outstanding and I'm not having a moan at him but the linesman should have been stronger.

"We are no strangers to going behind and then coming back. And I always felt we would get back in the game in the second half but the second goal was decisive, as we then had to chase the game.

"Even then we could have been level at 2-2 but Shefki missed with a great chance just after he had scored."

Skipper Jim Magilton was dropped with Kevin Horlock recalled after Magilton was rested to ensure he was fresh for the Stoke game. "Two games in three days was always going to be hard for him," said Royle.

"He is important to us and he did well for us when he came on and gave us variety. But our front men just weren't there."

Town have no injury worries ahead of the clash with Stoke City, which kicks off at 12.15pm.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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