Paul Jewell ‘very hopeful’ that best player Grant Leadbitter will stay

PAUL Jewell believes midfielder Grant Leadbitter has been Ipswich Town’s best player since his return to the side at the start of last month.

But while remaining confidence Leadbitter will commit his future to the Blues this week, Jewell admitted he won’t have any hesitation in not playing the 26-year-old should he choose his future lies away from Suffolk. A decision on Leadbitter’s future is expected to be made public this week and Jewell yesterday said: “I had a good football chat with Grant on Friday and I am very hopeful that he will decide to stay. But if he doesn’t, that’s his prerogative.

“We would really like him to stay. He has probably been our best player lately, he has done really well and it looks like he is enjoying his football.

“When we do press on Thursday, I am hoping to have some news. But for now, he is definitely available for selection.”

Jewell also reiterated his hope that in-form striker Jason Scotland will agree to a pay cut and sign a new one-year deal with the Blues.

Speaking 36 hours after the experienced frontman scored a Town goal-of-the-season contender at Crystal Palace, Jewell said: “We like Jason and he definitely has a part to play, whether coming off the bench or playing for an hour.

“We know he is not going to play 90 minutes on a Saturday, 90 minutes on a Tuesday and 90 minutes the following Saturday, but he can have an impact and he has been good for us.”

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Despite Jewell’s comments, it would be a big surprise if Scotland lost his place in tonight’s home match to Birmingham City (7.45pm ko) having scored in two consecutive matches.

Jimmy Bullard and Richard Wright are the only absentees and the keeper faces an uncertain future with his knee injury expected to keep him out for the rest of the season.

But Jewell revealed that he didn’t expect Wright, a free agent in the summer, to end up in America after he spent a few days training with FC Dallas in January.

The Town boss explained: “I had a brief chat with him the other day and he doesn’t think America is going to happen. There is a possibility he might stay here.

“He is one of those lads out of contract and we need to make a decision.”