Cash shortage could scupper Oakley bid

IPSWICH have targeted out-of-contract Southampton midfielder Matt Oakley - but a lack of cash is likely to scupper the move.One club man Oakley, 28, failed to show for pre-season training on the south coast and has rejected Saints' boss George Burley's offer of a new 12-month deal.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH have targeted out-of-contract Southampton midfielder Matt Oakley - but a lack of cash is likely to scupper the move.

One club man Oakley, 28, failed to show for pre-season training on the south coast and has rejected Saints' boss George Burley's offer of a new 12-month deal.

He would ideally like a two-year contract but it is understood that Town's preliminary enquiries have shown that the Peterborough-born star is out of their price range.


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Oakley's career peaked three years ago when he helped Southampton to reach the FA Cup Final and finish eighth in the Premiership.

His impressive form, particularly his distribution in the middle of the park, led to him being touted for an England call-up, but in September 2003 he suffered a cruciate ligament injury that sidelined him for nine months.

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Although he returned to action, he continued to have problems and, after ex-Town chief Burley took charge in December last year, Oakley only made eight appearances before an ankle problem brought his season to a premature end.

Ipswich boss Jim Magilton is anxious to reinforce his midfield options after he, Kevin Horlock and on-loan Jimmy Juan all moved on last season.

With Oakley apparently out of reach, the Town boss has taken three midfielders on trial with a view to assessing them over the next week or so.

Colin Healy and Eugen Bopp were joined at the Playford Road training ground yesterday by 26-year-old French player Alexis Bertin, who was released by Le Havre at the end of last season.

Healy and Bopp have both been pencilled in for 45-minute appearances in Town's first pre-season friendly at Boston on Saturday and Bertin could join them, depending on how he impresses in being put through his paces this week.

Bopp is known to the Portman Road coaching staff after starring for Nottingham Forest in an FA Youth Cup-tie a few years ago and he went on to make 89 first-team appearances at the City Ground before his release in May.

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