Thirteen playing for Portman Road future

THIRTEEN members of manager Jim Magilton's Ipswich Town squad will be playing for their Portman Road careers between now and the end of the season.

Elvin King

THIRTEEN members of manager Jim Magilton's Ipswich Town squad will be playing for their Portman Road careers between now and the end of the season.

Their contracts come to an end next June, and discussions are starting to take place on their futures.

They include club captain and Town's longest-serving player Richard Naylor, regular midfielder Tommy Miller and talented defender Alex Bruce.

It is customary for Ipswich to wait until February, March or April before finalising their decisions on contracts.

The Blues hierarchy will then have a better idea of which league Town will be in next season, and this will have a bearing on decisions made.

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Ipswich chief executive Derek Bowden said today: “Jim Magilton, first team coach Bryan Klug and myself have held initial discussions regarding extending, or not extending, player deals.

“With the January transfer window coming up we will probably wait and see what transpires before having final discussions.”

In the meantime Magilton and his staff will be keeping a close eye on the performance and progress of the players who are coming out of contract.

He said last May that Gavin Williams, Gary Roberts, Billy Clarke, Matt Richards and Dan Harding could leave and the first two have been sold - to Bristol City and Huddersfield respectively.

Richards and Harding have been on long-term loans at Brighton and Southend respectively, and both have expressed wishes to stay with their loan clubs.

But a big question mark hangs over the future of striker Billy Clarke, who this campaign has made a big impact scoring goals for Darlington in League Two.

The lad from Cork may well cause Magilton to change his mind if the goals continue to flow.

It would be a major shock if Naylor is not offered a new deal having missed just two games this season, and Miller, 29, has surely done enough to earn an extension to the two-year contract he signed when he re-joined the Blues in the summer of 2007.

Liam Trotter, currently on loan at Grimsby, may well have shown enough promise to be given an extra year.

But Kurt Robinson, Jai Reason and Ed Upson may have some catching up to do over the next few months if they are going to catch the manager's eye, while Dean Bowditch scored on his first loan game at Brentford at the weekend and will be looking to rekindle his career after Magilton showed faith by extending the striker's previous deal that ran out last June.

Bruce has already confirmed that he would love to stay with Ipswich, and his father Steve said after his Wigan side beat Town in the Carling Cup that his son would jump at the chance to sign a new Ipswich contract.

Bowden spoke to Bruce's agent this week, and talks remain on-going with Bowden adding: “We're not in a great hurry, and we're hopeful Alex will sign a new contract.”

The 13 can start talking to other clubs from January 1, but initial talks with the Ipswich management will take place before then.

Town players out of contract at the end of next season: Richard Naylor, Alex Bruce, Tommy Miller, Billy Clarke, Shane Supple, Matt Richards, Dan Harding, Chris Casement, Dean Bowditch, Liam Trotter, Kurt Robinson, Jai Reason, Ed Upson.