Keane confirms that he has turned down loads of offers for star

IPSWICH TOWN: Roy Keane today revealed that he has turned down loads of offers for key central defender Gareth McAuley.

The 30-year-old Northern Ireland international is set to be pivotal figure today when the Blues visit Bramall Lane to play Sheffield United (kick-off 3pm) in a Championship fixture.

It will be McAuley’s 100th first team appearance since being purchased by previous manager Jim Magilton from Leicester in the summer of 2008.

This time last year, McAuley’s then agent was told to look around for a new club for his client – but things are much different now.

“Gareth came back from a major injury last season and has often been our best player,” said Keane.

“He has been very consistent and when we have been short of numbers he has played a key role.

“Gareth has been professional and I’m pleased with him and hope he will play another 100 games for the club.

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“I’ve had loads of bids for him, but I’ve turned them all down – Gareth is going nowhere.”

While a new contract for McAuley is in the early stages of being discussed, Keane’s also runs out on June 30 next year.

Town chief executive Simon Clegg has indicated that talks will start soon with the manager, Keane is typically relaxed about his future.

But he did say: “I like it here, my family like it and my dogs like it here.

“I’m very happy but I found with my previous club that you never know what’s round the corner.

“The club are saying they are thinking about it, but there’s a difference in thinking about it and doing something about it. This contract talk is news to me.

“There’s still seven or eight months to go and a lot will depend on results.”

Looking at his selection for today’s game, Keane says that a late decision will be made on skipper David Norris’ fitness.

The midfielder travelled overnight to Yorkshire having done a light training session on Thursday after injuring an ankle last weekend.

“We’ll leave it late on David,” said Keane.

“Andros Townsend took a bang on his knee in a full scale practice match on Tuesday, but will be okay.

“The players are making it hard for me to make changes, but some others have trained really well this week.

“When you go to Sheffield you are always in for a difficult game whether its United or Wednesday, and we’ll have to play well to see United off.

“Days when we are off we are really off, and this cannot happen this weekend as Sheffield will be like a wounded animal - similar us to a short while ago after we had lost three on the bounce.

“We are getting better and making progress but we’re still some way short of being a good Championship side.”

Keane expects Darren O’Dea and Mark Kennedy to be ready for a midweek game next week - perhaps against Derby at home in the Championship - while Colin Healy is recovering from a hamstring and then groin injury.

Keane has confirmed that he will listen to requests to take Shane O’Connor and Jack Ainsley on loan so that they could play first team football elsewhere, but he wants to keep the rest of his squad to make sure he has cover.

Keane has refused Charlton permission to play loanee Lee Martin in the FA Cup this weekend. “We are keeping tabs on Lee, and who knows we might get to Wembley and need him,” said Keane.

Today’s likely squads

Sheffield Utd: Simonsen, Taylor, Lowton, Nosworthy, Ertl, Evans, Bartley, Yeates, Britton, Quinn, Reid, Cresswell, Ward, Wright, Calve, Bogdanovic, Montgomery, Slew, James.

Ipswich Town: Fulop, Eastman, McAuley, Delaney, Smith, Edwards, Leadbitter, Norris, Colback, Scotland, Priskin, Murphy, Peters, Brown, Kennedy, Livermore, Townsend, Hyam, Wickham Murray.

Referee: Mr G Salisbury (Lancashire)

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