Ipswich linked with Potter

IPSWICH Town will have to open the chequebook again if they want to land Stoke City skipper Clive Clarke, linked with a move to Portman Road by sources in Ireland yesterday.

By Dave Vincent

IPSWICH Town will have to open the chequebook again if they want to land Stoke City skipper Clive Clarke, linked with a move to Portman Road by sources in Ireland yesterday.

But Stoke's insistence on a transfer fee could scupper any deal. Dubliner Clarke, 25, a Republic of Ireland international, is a left-footer who can play centre-half, left-back and in midfield and who has played more than 300 games for the Potters.

He has only a year left on his contract at the Britannia Stadium and so Stoke City face losing him for no fee on a Bosman next year.

And, having been caught out several times recently with the departures of Wayne Thomas, Gifton Noel-Williams and, last summer, Chris Commons, all walking out for nothing, Stoke want to get a fee while they still can.

Clarke has been linked with Sheffield United, Burnley and Sunderland already during the close season and looked to be on his way following the sacking of manager Tony Pulis.

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New manager Johan Boskamp said he wants no more departures but, with doubts over funding by the club's Icelandic owners, he needs to generate funds for his own transfer dealings.

The Dutchman is looking to Europe to bring in trialists and loan signings to try and boost a threadbare squad.

Ipswich manager Joe Royle had to dip heavily into the profit from the sale of goalkeeper Kelvin Davis to Sunderland to pay for striker Sam Parkin, who arrived from Swindon Town, and will not want to part with more cash.

Reports in Ireland and the Midlands have linked Town with a move for Clarke.

Town have only paid out two transfer fees in Royle's time in charge, for Parkin and for midfielder Darren Currie from Brighton.

Town will have a smaller squad of senior players next season following the large number of departures, so a player with Clarke's versatility would obviously be a big plus.

Although Davis went for £1.25m, some of that had to be passed on to previous club Wimbledon/MK Dons. And, though the fee for Parkin was undisclosed, it could have amounted to almost £500,000.

Royle is still attempting to bring in at least one more recruit to his squad for next season and it is likely to be a defender.

One player definitely turning out in a Blues shirt next season is Jim Magilton, who yesterday revealed he offered to give up the captain's armband for the new season, which he expects to be his last as a player at the club.

He took on the captain's job after Matt Holland left for Charlton Athletic in 2003.

Thirty-six-year-old Magilton, who was in the running for a player-coach role at Bristol Rovers, has instead pledged his immediate future to Town.

He said: “I'll be pushing as hard as I've ever done to get in the side, don't worry about that, but I also have a role to play in helping the development of the many talented younger players at this club.

“I've spoken to the gaffer and told him I was more than happy to stand aside and let someone else have the honour of captaining the side.

“That's what it is, a great honour to lead Ipswich Town, but he didn't want to hear anything about the idea.

“So, I've still got the armband for next season. It will be another fantastic privilege for me. I will do everything I can to carry out the job with the respect it deserves.”

He said he was also flattered to be considered for the Bristol Rovers player-coach job.

“I love playing for this club and I'm determined to play my part in what I hope will be a successful season here.”

n Town's first friendly is at Conference club Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium next Wednesday (kick-off 7.45pm), when new strike partnership Parkin and Nicky Forster will feature for the first time.

n Ipswich Town's first round Carling Cup tie against Yeovil Town has been brought forward to Tuesday, August 23 from the Wednesday.

Colchester United are at home to Cardiff City on Wednesday, August 24 and the Town switch avoids any clash for supporters.