Mick McCarthy will play hardball with Wolves over January targets

Wolves' Richard Stearman

Wolves' Richard Stearman - Credit: Archant

IPSWICH Town manager Mick McCarthy is ready to play hardball with former club Wolves over a trio of targets.

The Blues boss is keen to be reunited with defensive duo Richard Stearman and Ronald Zubar, as well as striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, at Portman Road.

A deal for Zubar was understood to be done and dusted a month ago, but the sacking of manager Stale Solbakken and arrival of Dean Saunders at Molineux has changed things.

For Saunders’ first match in charge, a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn last Friday, Zubar made only his fifth start of the season, while Stearman was an unused substitute and Ebanks-Blake made a late cameo appearance off the bench.

Saunders admitted upon his arrival at the Midlands club that he may have to offload some players from his bloated squad before getting the chance to see them in action.

The Welshman wants to bring in his own players – with Norwich striker Simeon Jackson a reported target – but he will have to sell before he can buy.

Wolves chief executive Jez Moxley notoriously drives a hard bargain though, with Wolves having received £28m combined for Matt Jarvis, Steven Fletcher and Michael Kightly last summer.

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And it’s understood that McCarthy has baulked at the £1.8m price tag which has been put on former England Under-21 international Stearman.

The 6ft 3in defender – who can play at right-back or centre-back and is still only 25 – was an integral player under McCarthy and Terry Connor, with the duo keen to add him to a squad which is still short of competition in that area of the pitch.

Zubar and Ebanks-Blake are both in the final year of their deals and would be available on Bosman free transfers at the end of the campaign.

It will now be a game of cat and mouse between Town and Wolves. The Midlands club will want to get top value out of their assets, but Town are happy to wait until the end of the January transfer window looms before lodging some cut-price offers.

Meanwhile, it looks like striker DJ Campbell – who scored 10 goals in 17 games on loan for Town recently – will be sold by parent club QPR this month.

The 31-year-old started his first game back, a 1-1 home draw with West Brom in the FA Cup, but didn’t even make the bench as Harry Redknapp’s side won the replay 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Returning loanee Jay Bothroyd scored the winner, with Jamie Mackie and Djibril Cisse also starting. And the Hoops yesterday completed a club-record £8m deal for French striker Loic Remy from Marseille.

Despite signing three strikers since Campbell’s exit – David McGoldrick, Aaron Mclean and Frank Nouble – Blues boss McCarthy has said he still wants to bring the club’s top goalscorer back to Portman Road.

With the player keen on a permanent switch rather than another loan move, Town will face competition from fellow Championship club Crystal Palace.

Campbell build a good relationship with Eagles boss Ian Holloway during their time together at Blackpool, while the chance to stay in London would also appeal.

McCarthy is also keen on signing another goalkeeper following recent loanee Stephen Henderson’s return to West Ham.

Nottingham Forest’s Lee Camp – who has been transfer-listed by new boss Alex McLeish – is understood to be the top target.