Pompey trio had no interest in signing for Ipswich says Michael Appleton

PORTSMOUTH manager Michael Appleton has revealed his trio of players targeted by Ipswich Town had the final say on whether they moved to Portman Road.

Town made numerous bids for centre-back Jason Pearce, keeper Stephen Henderson and versatile Joel Ward in the January transfer window, but were finally forced to concede defeat on deadline day.

Bids were finally accepted for Ward and Henderson but the players turned down a move to Suffolk after personal terms could not be agreed.

Pompey were more reluctant to part with Pearce who is seen as an integral part of the club’s future, however worrying that might be with administration hanging over the 2008 FA Cup winners.

But on the eve of the two clubs meeting at Fratton Park tonight, Appleton has indicated that the players had no interest whatsoever in joining Paul Jewell and Ipswich.

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The Pompey boss said: “You can talk about Ipswich and the three boys but as far as I’m concerned - and I’m probably exaggerating - you could have Manchester United interested in your players but ultimately, if they don’t want to leave, they have the final say.

“You can’t literally gag them, put them in the boot of your car, drive them to the club and make them sign.

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If they don’t want to sign, that’s it - end of story.

“We take it as a massive compliment as a club that even under everything that’s going on and all the circumstances that have arisen over the past few months that they want to hang around.”

Now Appleton believes the trio will want to put on a performance against the club they could have joined and lift the spirits of the cash-strapped club.

He explained: “I’ve not made a big deal of it myself but I’m sure they will want to show that they have made the right choice. Regardless of whether Ipswich wanted to sign them, ultimately they didn’t want to sign for Ipswich. “You could tell they almost had a sigh of relief on their faces once the window was shut. They are quite happy to be Portsmouth players and I am quite happy that we have got them here.”

While Appleton has not completely ruled out Ipswich returning with a loan move for any of the trio, and then buying them permanently in the summer, he says he has no problem with Jewell’s persistence.

He explained: “That’s not a problem (inviting Jewell up for a post-match drink). Hopefully he will be choking on his beer because he’s just had a defeat!

“Ipswich will be frustrated at what happened at the weekend and they will be dying to take their frustrations out on us. Hopefully we will have a full house and have the place jumping.”

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