Grant Leadbitter and Damien Delaney linked in five-man Pompey swoop

IPSWICH Town captain Grant Leadbitter and Republic of Ireland international Damien Delaney have been lined up as makeweights in a sensational five-man deadline day swap with Portsmouth.

With just 48 hours left of the January transfer window, we understand Paul Jewell would be happy to let both his skipper and experienced defender join Pompey if it tipped the balance in his hunt for Jason Pearce, Joel Ward and keeper Stephen Henderson.

While Delaney might be offered in just a loan deal until the end of the season, Leadbitter could be allowed to leave Town on a free.

Despite being the club captain, the midfielder has often struggled to live up to his �2.6million price tag and it seems likely he will leave Ipswich anyway when his contract runs out at the end of the season.

The sticking-point could be Leadbitter and Delaney’s reluctance to join a club in turmoil.

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Portsmouth, then managed by Steve Cotterill, put in a bid for the 26-year-old midfielder in the summer while Delaney – who has also been linked to Crystal Palace – knows he needs to be playing regularly to have any chance of making this summer’s European Championships.

After clinching a deal for 27-year-old Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson on Saturday night, the clock is ticking as Jewell looks to tie up more deals – especially to boost his morale-hit defence.

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The club last week bid �1.75 million for the Pompey trio, who all played, as expected, in the club’s 3-0 win over Peterborough on Saturday – a match watched by the Blues boss.

But with cash-strapped Pompey struggling for numbers, Town hope the lure of a cash-plus-players deal might be enough to get their men.

Owner Marcus Evans was yesterday said to be directly involved in trying to wrap up a deal.

Another option for the Blues would be to increase their financial offer for a fourth time in drawn-out negotiations that have frustrated concerned fans.

The club also had Crawley Town striker Tyrone Barnett watched during Saturday’s shock 1-0 FA Cup win over Hull City and they might still make a move for the 26-year-old frontman.

But it is Pompey centre back Pearce and the versatile Ward who many Town fans are targeting as the top priority. However, speaking after his goal helped claim victory over Peterborough, Pearce said: “I love the club (Portsmouth) – everyone knows that.

“I want to stay here but no one knows what is going to happen with the current situation. It’s all out of my hands.”

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