‘He is going to be a big signing’ – Former Ipswich target Clarke-Harris moves to rivals Peterborough

Former Ipswich Town target Jonson Clarke-Harris has moved from Bristol Rovers to Peterborough. Photo

Former Ipswich Town target Jonson Clarke-Harris has moved from Bristol Rovers to Peterborough. Photo: Peterborough United FC - Credit: Archant

Former Ipswich Town striker target Jonson Clarke-Harris has joined League One rivals Peterborough United.

Bristol Rovers’ talisman has signed a four-year deal at London Road later after his South West employers accepted a bid reportedly in the region of £1.25m.

It’s understood that Town’s interest in the prolific forward, who has scored 27 goals in 49 appearances for the Gas, waned after the new League One salary cap was voted in.

Blues boss Paul Lambert instead signed free agent target man Oli Hawkins following his release by Portsmouth.

It’s been reported that Clarke-Harris will become Peterborough’s highest-paid player. He has been brought in to replace star man Ivan Toney, Posh set to cash in on last season’s 26-goal, £10m rated striker over the coming weeks as a number of clubs vie for his signature.

Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson said: “Jonson was our number one target and I am delighted that the deal is done and am looking forward to working with him. His goal-scoring record in the last two seasons with Bristol Rovers has been very, very good.

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“He gives us the physicality that we may lose with Ivan. The other strikers aside from Ivan, Mo (Eisa), Dembs (Siriki Dembele) and Ricky (Jane-Jones) are all very talented in what they do, but they don’t have that physicality and in certain games when it is not going as well as you would like with the ball, you need someone to get hold of the ball and get you up the pitch.

“Jonson can do that and more. He has matured as a player. I managed him when he was a kid, he has developed and has done well at this level and he is ready for this step-up to a team that is trying to get into the Championship. I am absolutely delighted that the co-owners have allowed me to bring him in, he is going to be a big signing for this football club.

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“He is very good at set-pieces, in terms of free-kicks and penalties so that is something we will look at, he has a very good left-foot, there are areas we need to develop with his game, but he is ready for the challenge and is looking forward to it. We must make sure we don’t put too much pressure on the boy, I want him to play as he has been with a bit of development to his game because we have bought him for a reason.

“He has good experience of League One, he is a Leicester lad, so his family is not far from here, which is also important, and I am sure he will settle in quickly. He is not too far behind fitness wise so will play on Saturday and to be honest, it was good to get him in at this time before the season gets underway. My squad is about 95% done and I am sure there is closure on what I want to do with the squad.

“There have to be players that leave, with the salary cap and the amount of players that I am allowed in it, the players we have bought in recently means that some existing members of the squad will have to leave, that is just the way it is and it is something that we are targeting to complete as soon as we can.”

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This will be Clarke-Harris’ second stint at Peterborough, having failed to make a single appearance for them as a teenager in 2012/13 following a switch from Coventry.

Bristol Rovers have reluctantly cashed in on a player who is now in the final year of his contract and unwilling to negotiate a new deal.

Speaking last month, Rovers boss Ben Garner said: “We have a set structure in place as a club that we don’t break, that we don’t go beyond because that has been the downfall of this club in previous years.”

Rovers will now have to recruit a new striker as the new season quickly approaches. Ipswich are set to play them twice inside the opening few weeks of the campaign, first in an EFL Cup game at Portman Road (Sept 5) and then in a League One game at the Memorial Stadium (Sept 19).

The Blues aren’t set to face Peterborough until December 19.

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