Portsmouth players will have to prioritise football over money if they are to end up at Ipswich Town

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell has admitted he is still interested in signing players from cash-strapped Portsmouth – but insists they would have to prove that football is more important to them than money.

The Blues worked tirelessly to try and sign a trio of Pompey players during the January transfer window.

However, with severity of the south coast club’s financial woes not completely clear at that stage, bids for centre-back Jason Pearce were continually rejected, while Town pulled out of deals for keeper Stephen Henderson and the versatile Joel Ward at the 11th hour after baulking at the duo’s wage demands.

Since then Portsmouth have gone into administration, sunk to the bottom of the Championship table following a 10-point deduction and are now desperately trying to offload players before next Thursday’s loan deadline in order to avoid the growing threat of liquidation.

Henderson has already moved to West Ham, with the Hammers – as well as promotion rivals Southampton – also reportedly interested in Pearce and Ward.

“We have been contacted by Portsmouth about players being available,” confirmed Jewell. “Whether we pursue that is another thing.

“It all depends on what the price is and what the players are looking for. The climate has changed; the wages people think we have been paying are not there anymore.

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“If things are right, we would be interested – that goes for other players as well.

“We want to go for the better players but we have to be sensible with the wages. It is a difficult balancing act.

“We have to look at the hungry players who will have to decide what they want – a big pay day or going to a club where you get success and then you get paid.

“I didn’t speak to any of their players before. There didn’t seem to be an awful lot of them pushing to come here so maybe things happen for a reason.”

Meanwhile, with keeper Alex McCarthy’s loan from Reading expiring four games before the end of the season, Jewell hasn’t ruled out bringing in another temporary custodian before next Thursday’s deadline.

“We will see,” said the Blues boss. “There might be a possibility of that or we might go with Arran (Lee-Barrett). He has been unlucky a couple of times this season. He has come in, played a few matches and has been fine.”