Ipswich and Reading haven’t bid for Okuonghae

TALK of a bidding war between Ipswich and Reading for Colchester United defender Magnus Okuonghae has been dismissed as pure fantasy by the Essex club’s owner Robbie Cowling.

The U’s supremo instantly rejected a bid for the Nigerian-born centre-back from League One rivals Charlton recently – believed to be a a low-level six figure fee – claiming the Addicks would have to make an ‘extremely large’ offer if they were to stand any chance of signing the 25-year-old.

Sources close to the south London club say that manager Chris Powell has now moved onto new targets as he is unwilling to pay more for a player who – despite huge promise – has just a year left on his contract and missed the entire back end of last season through injury.

Since then national reports have emerged that Championship clubs Ipswich and Reading had taken over the bidding.

Despite having signed Ivar Ingimarsson, the Blues still require another centre-back following Gareth McAuley’s departure, while Reading are said to be lining up replacements should Wolves launch a �4m bid for skipper Matt Mills.

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Cowling, who has already seen Player of the Year David Perkins leave on a Bosman free to Championship club Barnsley this summer, insists he has not received a single offer for his athletic 6ft 3in centre-back since his strong rebuttal of Charlton though.

“I put out a strong statement about Magnus and it seems to have worked,” said Cowling. “I don’t know where this talk of Championship interest has come from because I haven’t received a single phone call since rejecting Charlton’s offer.

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“As I said before, Magnus is one of our best players and we want to keep him for many years to come.”

Strong in the air, athletic and with significant captaincy experience, Okuonghae has proved a bargain buy for Colchester.

Purchased by Paul Lambert for a fee of around �45,000 from then League Two club Dagenham & Redbridge in 2009, Okuonghae – a non-league player as recently as 2007 – made the step up to the third tier of the English game look effortless.

Affectionately nicknamed ‘Beast’ by U’s supporters he enjoyed a super debut campaign at The Weston Homes Community Stadium and was given the captain’s armband when Aidy Boothroyd took over.

His second season at the U’s started well under new boss John Ward, but a mystery foot injury sustained in November – later diagnosed as a blood flow problem which required surgery – ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.

He is on course for a return to action in Colchester’s pre-season trip to Holland early next month.

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