City try to steal Kuqi

IPSWICH Town last night repulsed a late bid by Norwich City to sign Shefki Kuqi.The Canaries tried to steal the on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker from under Town's noses but were thwarted when he signed a 20-month deal with the Blues.

IPSWICH Town last night repulsed a late bid by Norwich City to sign Shefki Kuqi, writes Derek Davis.

The Canaries tried to steal the on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker from under Town's noses but were thwarted when he signed a 20-month deal with the Blues.

I understand City contacted Wednesday manager Chris Turner and the player's agent to get agreement for them to sell to Norwich instead but the Sheffield boss had already agreed a deal with Town and Kuqi was more than happy to stay at Portman Road.

Norwich are set to lose loanees Peter Crouch and Darren Huckerby and are already hunting for replacements.


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Town took over the 27-year-old's contract which expires in the summer of 2005 and will pay Wednesday a bonus payment if they reach the Premiership. And they have managed to take the Kosovan-born striker without having to pay an initial transfer fee.

Royle said last night: “We are delighted to have secured Shefki in the long term. He has shown what an honest and hard-working player he is and can score goals. He has a tremendous future ahead of him and I can see him being a success in the Premiership.”

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The Blues were given another boost when Ian Westlake also penned a new deal.

Midfielder Westlake, a 19-year-old from Clacton who climbed through the youth ranks, agreed a new two-year extension to his contract.

Blues boss Joe Royle said: “Ian is a very strong and dedicated player who has come on leaps and bounds of late. His progress is yet another feather in the cap of the Academy.”

Meanwhile, Royle has issued a 'keep away' warning to West Bromwich Albion, who are reportedly close to making a bid for Pablo Counago.

Baggies boss Gary Megson is keen to bolster his strike force with Lee Hughes facing charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

West Midland sources last night said Megson was keen on the Spanish under-21 international, who is out with a hamstring injury at the moment.

But Royle said last night: “We have not heard from West Brom but if they did try they would be wasting their time because Pablo is not available.”

Counago has recovered well from his injury but will not be fit enough to travel to Cardiff City, although Town are hoping to have him fit for the trip to Nottingham Forest in midweek.

Alan Mahon is another who will not be involved against his old club even though he completed 70 minutes for Town reserves on Wednesday after recovering from a hamstring injury and then a viral infection.

Georges Santos remains the biggest doubt from the team which beat Sheffield United 3-0 last week.

The Frenchman is still in pain after taking a kick on the sole of a foot which has left it tender. If he fails to be available for the first time since joining in the summer John McGreal will make his comeback after a nine-month lay-off.

Alun Armstrong is set to come into the squad in place of Dean Bowditch, who is being rested so he can play for Town in the FA Youth Cup at Blackburn on Monday.

Martijn Reuser has recovered from a slight groin twinge and will be on the bench, as Ian Westlake coame through training yesterday with no reaction to a heavy tackle with Stuart McCall last weekend.

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