‘I should have spoken to Keith earlier,’ admits Jewell

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell remains hopeful of signing Keith Andrews following a clear-the-air chat with the unhappy Irish international.

The 31-year-old claimed on Wednesday that owner Marcus Evans and chief executive Simon Clegg had shown ‘no ambition’ to keep him at the club during a meeting with his agent at the start of the week.

And he also revealed that Jewell had not taken the time to speak to him personally about his future, with just three games of his loan spell from Premier League club Blackburn to go.

The public outburst prompted Jewell to speak to his nine-goal, stand-in skipper ahead of yesterday’s training session, with the outcome cautiously positive.

“We are both strong-minded people, but I have a terrific relationship with Keith,” said Jewell.

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“I just said to him that, having lost seven on the bounce recently, I was worried about whether I was going to be here – never mind Keith Andrews!

“Maybe I should have had a chat with him earlier, but it has come to a head now. He knows that both I – and the club – want to keep him. It’s now just whether the agent and the clubs can come to an agreement.”

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Andrews has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs including Swansea, Norwich, Wigan, Bolton and Aston Villa in recent weeks, but Jewell believes that Town aren’t out of the reckoning just yet.

“He’s told me he wants to stay, but I guess every player says that!” said the Blues boss.

“When I first brought him here we had a long chat and he said he wants to be part of a club that’s moving forward rather than just being part of a relegation scrap in the Premier League.

“It’s hard being part of that relegation scrap at times for players. It’s no fun going into games knowing you’re hardly going to touch the ball – they were his words, not mine.

“I think if there are Premier League clubs that are not in the top half going after him, then we’ve got a good chance of signing him. We aren’t going to be able to compete in terms of money, but it’s not all about money, it’s about the future; and that’s what gives me hope we can sign him.”

Meanwhile, Jewell confirmed that he is due to speak to Stoke manager Tony Pulis today about the prospect of signing Danny Collins – whose loan spell at Portman Road expired following last weekend’s game – in the January transfer window.

Like Andrews, the centre-back has still got 18 months left on his Premier League contract, with other top-flight clubs keeping a close eye on developments.

“I would like to keep both Keith and Danny,” said Jewell. “Whether we can or not is down to a number of things – the clubs they are at, the players themselves, the agents, and us ourselves. There are a lot of factors involved.

“We don’t want to end up in an auction for all these players though. We will have to make an offer but the players are in a strong position and they will listen to the best offer.

“I never have a problem with players trying to better themselves or trying to get the best deals for their families, but I also want the best for Ipswich.

“It’s not as easy as people might think.”

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