Derby trio fighting for their futures

IPSWICH Town are to re-look at offering new contracts to three players who could have vital parts to play in Sunday's Coca-Cola Championship derby at Carrow Road, Norwich City.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town are to re-look at offering new contracts to three players who could have vital parts to play in Sunday's Coca-Cola Championship derby at Carrow Road, Norwich City.

Club captain Richard Naylor, defender Alex Bruce and midfielder Tommy Miller go into the game with their futures uncertain as their contracts run out next summer.

And for the next four weeks they will be playing for their Portman Road futures.

They are among 13 Town players with just seven months left to run on their contracts, and the Blues have said that decisions will not be made until the New Year.

The 'unlucky' 13 can start talking to other clubs from January 1, and today Ipswich chief executive Derek Bowden confirmed that performances over the next month might sway the decision.

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Bowden said today: “I confirm what we have already said that no decisions are being made on the 13 until the New Year.

“No offers have yet been made.”

But Bowden, who is club owner Marcus Evans' right-hand man at Portman Road, did add: “We will be having a re-look in January.”

While Naylor, who has missed just three games this season, and Miller who has been as consistent as any one in midfield, will feel they deserve a contract extension, an apparent reluctance to offer Bruce a deal is proving a mystery to fans.

He was part of the Town rearguard that just missed out on the play-offs last season and has been a virtual regular in his 30 months at Portman Road.

Bruce has been named in the Coca-Cola Championship Team for the second successive week for his display in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.

His agent has confirmed that Bruce has not got as far as negotiating fresh terms and that the 24-year-old, who won his second full Republic of Ireland cap two weeks ago, has no problem with anybody at Ipswich Town.

The other 10 players out of contract in the summer are Dan Harding, Shane Supple, Billy Clarke, Matt Richards, Chris Casement, Dean Bowditch, Liam Trotter, Kurt Robinson, Jai Reason and Ed Upson.

Former England coach Don Howe, 73, is taking a couple of training sessions this week as Ipswich prepare for Sunday's derby against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Magilton met Howe, who has more than 50 years football experience, when working on his coaching badges, and he said: “Don's knowledge of the game is so extensive.

“I have invited him down to spend a couple of days with the players and the staff.

“He has looked at videos of our games and will take a couple of sessions. It will be a great learning exercise for everyone.”

Although Magilton is an admirer of local lad Kieron Dyer's outstanding ability there is little chance the former England international will join the Blues on loan in January.

Paying part of Dyer's wages with West Ham would be a problem as would accommodating a player, however good, recovering from a long term injury in a midfield seeking promotion through the play-offs.