Magilton impressed by Pim's confidence

A VIRTUAL unknown he may be but Blues boss Jim Magilton is convinced Pim Balkestein will soon be making a name for himself at Portman Road.With compensation of about £180,000 agreed for the 22-year-old with Dutch club Heerenveen, the Blues are confident of landing the 6ft 3in centre half over the next few days as they haggle over the length of contract.

Derek Davis

A VIRTUAL unknown he may be but Blues boss Jim Magilton is convinced Pim Balkestein will soon be making a name for himself at Portman Road.

With compensation of about £180,000 agreed for the 22-year-old with Dutch club Heerenveen, the Blues are confident of landing the 6ft 3in centre half over the next few days as they haggle over the length of contract.

Once that has been finalised, Balkestein, son of former Sparta defender Luuk Balkestein, will have a medical and join up with the first team squad when pre-season training starts on June 24.


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The 22-year-old was so keen to make an impression with Ipswich Town he paid his own flight over from Holland to play in a trial game and that, coupled with a desire to impress, convinced Magilton to take a chance on the player whose contract with the Eredivisie side ran out without him playing a first team match.

Magilton said: “Pim wasn't fazed by mixing with the first-team players when he came over for a trial with us. He's a confident lad. He was aggressive in his play and has a cultured left foot.

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“He's 6ft 3in, is an organiser, he can pass a ball and is someone who is desperate for an opportunity. He paid his own flight to come over and play for us in a friendly at Tottenham. He showed a determination to play and his all round attitude and ability impressed me. We are close to agreeing personal terms and then when that is completed, he will have a medical.”

Whether Balkestein commands a starting position remains to be seen, but that left side of central defence is there to be won.

Alex Bruce will be fighting to keep his place, but with Jason De Vos retired Magilton wants competition to fill the gap.

Richard Naylor will be a contender and Magilton has his sights set on two more experienced centre-halves in Northern Ireland international Gareth McAuley who he has bid for. If not he could go for Cardiff City's Roger Johnson who Town have enquired about, but not made a formal offer.

McAuley remains first choice, but Town won't be led to ransom and he has others in his sights. Magilton said: “We made a substantial bid a few weeks ago for Gareth and it was rejected.

“When we did it, we wanted to get the job done quickly, but Leicester have lost their manager and are taking stock, which you can understand. It's still early days though. It's an on going situation.

“As I said at the end of the season, I am not going to strive too far away from targets that we have pinned down and Gareth is someone that I feel can do a good job for us.”

Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale made it known that he wanted £3million for Johnson and said Town had made £1m bid, while Wolves were among the clubs keen on the player.

But Magilton dismissed the reports and added: “It's speculation and nothing more than that at the moment.”

There is no Town interest in Blackpool's Kaspar Gorkss and it also appears reports that Town have agreed a price for Shola Ameobi are wide of the mark, although he is a player Town tried to land earlier this year before he went on loan to Stoke City.

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