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Left-sided defender a transfer priority as Ipswich wait on Gibson's Everton contract decision with Preston's Earl linked

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 13 January 2020

Ipswich Town have shown a strong interest in Everton defender Lewis Gibson and have been linked with Josh Earl of Preston North End. Picture: PREMIERLEAGUE/PA

Ipswich Town have shown a strong interest in Everton defender Lewis Gibson and have been linked with Josh Earl of Preston North End. Picture: PREMIERLEAGUE/PA

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Signing a left-sided centre-back has become a top priority for Ipswich Town during the January transfer window.

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has told fans not to expect a busy January transfer window, although Toto Nsiala has joined Bolton with Everton youngster Lewis Gibson potentially coming the other way. Picture: ARCHANTIpswich Town owner Marcus Evans has told fans not to expect a busy January transfer window, although Toto Nsiala has joined Bolton with Everton youngster Lewis Gibson potentially coming the other way. Picture: ARCHANT

The departure of Toto Nsiala, on loan to Bolton, leaves the Blues with just Luke Chambers, Luke Woolfenden and James Wilson as specialist central defenders at a time when manager Paul Lambert's preference is to play with three at the back.

With signing a left-footed defender, who is comfortable on the ball, now a priority, the Blues are understood to have reached an agreement with Everton to loan their England Under 20 international Lewis Gibson.

However, the completion of that loan deal is dependent on Gibson penning a new deal at Goodison Park, with his current terms expiring at the end of the campaign.

The 19-year-old joined Everton from Newcastle in 2017 for an initial £1million which could ultimately reach £6million.

Toto Nsiala has joined League One rivals Bolton on loan. Photo: Ross HallsToto Nsiala has joined League One rivals Bolton on loan. Photo: Ross Halls

Negotiations regarding a new deal are underway but the defender is said to be seeking assurances regarding his pathway to the first-team before putting pen-to-paper.

There is said to be interest from clubs in The Netherlands and Germany in his services.

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"Lewis is a player that we've had a look at. We've had a restructuring of our scouting system, we've got a number of players that we're interested in across the country that we've identified," Town's general manager of football operations, Lee O'Neill told BBC Radio Suffolk's Life's a Pitch on Saturday.

Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden pictured after Town had taken an early lead.      
Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comLuke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden pictured after Town had taken an early lead. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

"He's one on a long list of players that we would like but at the moment he's an Everton player and that situation's not going any further forward at this moment in time.

"I don't know about that," O'Neill added, when the situation regarding Gibson's Everton contract was put to him. "It's up to them to figure that situation out. All I know is that at this moment in time he's not available for loan."

While Gibson is the Blues' preferred option, they have also been linked with a move for Preston defender Josh Earl by The Sun.

The 21-year-old has spent the first half of the season on loan at Bolton and remains available, with the Blues and Rotherham said to be interested.

Paul Lambert pictured during Town's 4-1 win over Accrington Stanley Photo: ROSS HALLSPaul Lambert pictured during Town's 4-1 win over Accrington Stanley Photo: ROSS HALLS

The Blues' defenders operated in a notably different system during Saturday's 4-1 victory over Accrington Stanley, which saw Chambers and Woolfenden push up and beyond widemen Gwion Edwards and Luke Garbutt, with the duo creating a goal each in the victory.

Janoi Donacien, Myles Kenlock and Cole Skuse can all operate as central defenders if needed, but it's clear bringing in a left-footer who is comfortable in possession is at the top of manager Lambert's shopping list.

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