Foxes want to keep Bent

LEICESTER City want to keep Ipswich Town striker Marcus Bent for their promotion fight next season.The Foxes face competition from Old Firm giants Celtic and Rangers who are also believed to be interested in capturing Bent who Town paid £3m to Blackburn for in November 2001.

LEICESTER City want to keep Ipswich Town striker Marcus Bent for their promotion fight next season, writes Derek Davis.

The Foxes face competition from Old Firm giants Celtic and Rangers who are also believed to be interested in capturing Bent who Town paid £3m to Blackburn for in November 2001.

But all interested parties may be thwarted by Town, should they win the race for the third promotion spot.

Blues boss Joe Royle last night confirmed: “We have not heard from either Celtic or Rangers but Leicester City have contacted us to say they want to keep Marcus for next season.”


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Ipswich would probably seek a seven-figure fee for Bent but may want to hold on to him if they are in the Premiership.

Royle added: “It is too early for us to be making those sort of plans but certainly should we be promoted we would be in a better position to afford his salary.”

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Bent, who will be 26 in a fortnight, has recently said he is keen to stay at the Walkers Stadium where he has been on loan since the end of August.

Although City are relegated, they are in a lot stronger financial situation than they were the last time they went down two years ago.

A consortium bought the club after it had gone into administration and most of the debts were wiped out.

They are currently bottom of the table but each place they move up in the next couple of games would be worth another £500,000.

They are also in line for a television cash boost of £650,000 if the final game of the season against Arsenal, is picked to be shown live.

The Gunners could still be chasing an unprecedented feat of going the whole season unbeaten.

Bent is believed to be on around £17,000 a week and would be too rich for Town's blood in Division One. But his goal-scoring record in the Premiership - he has hit 10 goals for Leicester in 26 starts - would make him a coveted hit-man in the Premiership.

Although Bent's season is effectively over after the Arsenal encounter, he remains on loan with Leicester until June when he would then return to Portman Road where he has another year on his contract.

Rangers were linked with Bent in the national media over the weekend, although I understand Alex McLeish has limited funds and has his sights set on three targets from abroad.

Martin O'Neill is known to be an admirer of Bent and a Celtic source last night told me the Hoops boss was staying tight-lipped about his choice to replace Henrik Larsson but Bent was in the frame.

Celtic are also known to be keen on Town's young striker Dean Bowditch but he is seen as a longer-term prospect.

Meanwhile, Town's build-up for Sunday's clash with Cardiff continues in the calm manner the experienced Royle promised in Monday's EADT.

The players return to training today after a couple of days' break with no fresh injury concerns. Tommy Miller is the only slight concern with a tight hamstring and a sore mouth.

Cardiff keeper Martyn Margetson will hold off from having a finger operation until after the season is completed, as he wants a chance to play for Wales in their upcoming friendlies and will play on Sunday with strapping to protect the damaged digit.

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