Keeping key players shows serious position Town are in

NOT cashing in on David Norris and Gareth McAuley during the January transfer window shows the serious concern felt at Portman Road at the precarious state that Ipswich Town is in.

Former manager Roy Keane’s legacy is a team just above the relegation zone and fighting a battle to avoid a drop to the third level of English football for the first time in over 55 years.

The Blues go into tonight’s game at Pride Park against Derby County in 19th position in the Championship and with just two victories in their last 11 league matches.

Excellent performances against Arsenal in the Carling Cup semi-final might have lightened the gloom at Portman Road, but there is still a lot of work for new manager Paul Jewell to do before he finds calm water.

He emphasised this when he said: “With David and Gareth out of contract in the summer we could have cashed in.

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“But we realise that we are in a dog fight, and the owner and chief executive were not prepared to let key players move on.”

From today Ipswich potentially have 22 players on their books that are worth no money to them – zilch.

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They can all leave in the summer when transfers take place again on free transfers.

And that’s a lot of money with Norris costing �2million and others like McAuley, Damien Delaney and Carlos Edwards also having a sizeable market value until yesterday.

This is unless they sign a Blues contract between now and the end of June, and this is the path that Jewell is pursuing with new January signings Jimmy Bullard and Andy Drury having arrived to bolster his squad.

Keane often bemoaned a failure to complete signings after he had done the spadework.

Although missing out on young striker Charlie Austin to Burnley last week, Jewell sees no problem on that score.

“I would not have come to Ipswich if I thought that was the case,” he said.

“I don’t think you can blame our chief executive for Charlie not coming here.

“Sometimes players want money that you don’t think they are worth. You win some and lose some.

“We’ve done well to get Jimmy (Bullard) and Charlie knows Burnley manager Eddie Howe although he would have been a good capture.

“I walked into a nightmare situation with so many players out of contract and the position should not have arisen. I tried to bring more players in and we had a close shave with one or two.”

Jewell said that he has turned down bids for two of his players and he said they were not Norris or McAuley.

“I wanted to keep everybody here,” he added.

Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish has confirmed that his club bid �800,000 for Norris and Delaney but Ipswich said no while Jewell confirmed there has been no interest shown by Swansea in Jason Scotland.

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