Play-off final doubt delays loan deals

PROMOTION-seeking Championship managers, including Jim Magilton, looking to sign loan players are now waiting until Monday as the play-off final date is in doubt.

Derek Davis

PROMOTION-seeking Championship managers, including Jim Magilton, looking to sign loan players are now waiting until Monday as the play-off final date is in doubt.

Clubs in contention for a top six finish do not want to sign players on a 93-day loan spell unless they are sure they will be available for the two semi finals and the play-off final and it was originally thought Friday, February 22, would be the right date.

But the Football League are in talks about returning the showcase final to the Bank Holiday Monday, which would be May 26, switching it from the current date set for Saturday May 24.

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Stoke City have signed Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop in time to face Ipswich today although is likely to be on the bench, but were contemplating waiting until Monday to complete the paperwork so he would be eligible for the final if they got there.

Dates for the play-off semi-finals have yet to be decided either but all should be settled at a Football League meeting next week. Ipswich are hoping to sign David Nugent from Portsmouth but are waiting until next week, partly because the striker is carrying an abductor strain injury.

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Magilton is still waiting for an answer to the player who could give the Blues the sort of push Marcus Stewart game Town in 2000.

Stewart was signed from Huddersfield Town for £2.5m in the February and scored five goals to ensure a top six finish and one of those came in the final against Barnsley.

Magilton was in that promotion winning side with Stewart and knows how much of a lift a proven goal-scorer like Nugent

“We've put a marker down though and it's a statement of intent.

“My only fear about it coming out is that it might alert others but that's part and parcel of the game.

“We've approached Portsmouth and they have been very kind. They have approached the lad to see if he wants to get games and now we've got to wait and see.”

The Blues are also after a defender but will wait until Monday before trying to seal a deal.

By then they could have move dup a place to fifth in the table, and closing the gap on today's Championship leaders Stoke.

Town striker Danny Haynes has no doubts about the importance of today's cash.

He said: “This is our biggest game of the season so far. In terms of points and closing the gap in a very tight league it is a huge game for us.

“It also sends out a huge message to the rest of the division if we can go to the top of the table team and get a result.

“Teams are already wary of us but this would hammer that message home.”

Ipswich Town squad: Bywater, Colgan, Bruce, Harding, Wright, Sito, De Vos, Naylor, Trotter, Garvan, Miller, Sumulikoski, Norris, Quinn, Haynes, Counago, Lee, Walters.

Stoke City squad: Simonsen, Fulop, Griffin, Dickinson, Cort, Shawcross, Lawrence, Diao, Whelan, Delap, Sidibe, Fuller, Zakuni, Cresswell, Wilkinson, Parkin.

Referee: Mick Jones (Cheshire)

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