Double-signing on the cards for Town

ALTHOUGH Ipswich Town have been knocked back in their initial bid to capture Cardiff City's Roger Johnson they are looking to complete a double signing this week.

Derek Davis

ALTHOUGH Ipswich Town have been knocked back in their initial bid to capture Cardiff City's Roger Johnson they are looking to complete a double signing this week.

Blues chief executive Derek Bowden is confident that they can secure 6ft 4in centre-half Pim Balkestein from Heerenveen before the end of the week and also name their new overseas scout.

The Dutch defender will become Jim Magilton's first summer signing, should he accept terms, after impressing while on trial and playing in a friendly game.

Bowden said: “We have agreed terms with his club and we are meeting with his representatives. Now we need to agree personal terms with him and then he has to have medical “Hopefully that can be concluded this week.”

Even with the arrival of Balkestein, Town are targeting at least one other defender and have their eyes on a couple of other strong possibilities.

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Over the weekend, Cardiff City leaked to the Welsh press that they had rejected a £1m offer from Ipswich for Johnson who they paid Wycombe Wanderers £275,000 for two years ago.

Chairman Peter Ridsdale wants £3m for the 6ft 3in defender and says other clubs are in for him, with Wolves yesterday named as being interested.

The Blues have made no secret they want a centre half to replace Jason De Vos and Fabian Wilnis and the highly-rated 25-year-old Johnson, who helped the Bluebirds to an FA Cup final, is an obvious choice.

It is thought that Leicester City's Gareth McAuley remains among the top targets, but the Blues refuse to be held to ransom on the transfer fee and have other centre halves they are ready to turn to, Johnson being just one of them.

Town have made an offer to the Foxes for the player which was rejected and the Blues are ready to play the waiting game or go elsewhere.

Foxes chief executive Paul Aldridge has stated there are no other bidders for the defender who is keen to play his trade in a higher division than League One.

Bowden said: “Clearly we are trying to bring in one or two centre halves and McAuley is high on the list.”

US captain Carlos Bocanegra who has been released by Fulham is another who would fit the bill, a left-sided player who can play left back or and centre-half but he has made it plain he wants to stay in the Premier League and Town have not made a formal approach.

Dejan Stefanovic, a team-mate of Bocanegra at Craven Cottage who was with Magilton at Sheffield Wednesday, is also a possibility but his reluctance to move from his home on the south coast has made him an unlikely signing now.

Town have been linked with Blackpool's Latvian international Kaspar Gorkss, but it is believed he is not on Magilton's wish list and no move has been made for the player who Norwich City are keen on.

With Euro 2008 up and running, Town hope to reveal their new overseas scout with Simon Hunt, David Geddis and one more candidate fighting it out for the role.

Bowden believes the club will be able to formally offer the position to the successful applicant this week and a deal struck by the weekend.

“We have short-listed the candidates and we expect to make an offer to the successful applicant on Wednesday.”

Town are also searching for a goalkeeping coach but that appointment will have to wait until Magilton has decided on who his No. 1 keeper will be.

Bowden said: “Until we have resolved the goalkeeping situation then we will focus on a goalkeeping coach. Andy (Rhodes) has moved on and we will now put a decision on a new goalkeeping coach on hold.”

If Balkestein completes his move other players could soon follow as football transfer business picks up pace.

Bowden said: “It is early days, but people are beginning to come back from holiday and things may start to move.”