Top Town trio being tempted away?

IPSWICH TOWN: Skipper Jon Walters, key defender Gareth McAuley and rising star Connor Wickham are all being tempted away from Portman Road.

This is if you believe all that you read, but the adage that there is rarely smoke without fire is believed to ring true in these cases.

It will be a test of the hold Town manager Roy Keane has over his players and whether the trio have ‘bought in’ to his quest to take the Blues in to the Premier Division by gaining promotion from the Championship next season.

Keane has stressed that there are a core of players he wants to retain into next season with Walters and Wickham certainly on his list and McAuley believed to be.

It would be a surprise if the three were to leave, but it cannot be ruled out particularly ‘if the price is right’.

Stoke City are said to have renewed their interest in Walters having been impressed by his display when watched by Potters assistant manager Peter Reid in the final game of the season.

A sizeable bid is reported to have been made; a stage that Stoke did not reach when they shadowed Walters two years ago.

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Scottish champions Rangers and a Premier League club are understood to be taking more than a passing interest in central defender McAuley who has been selected for Northern Ireland in their squad for friendlies against Turkey in Connecticut, USA on May 26 and Chile in Santiago four days later.

Sunderland and Tottenham lead the charge to take 17-year-old striking sensation Wickham into the top flight for next season with the former set to offer Daryl Murphy and David Healy plus �3million and Spurs having been linked with a �4million bid.

There could be other Ipswich first team squad members who would be willing to listen to offers to move, and not all from the group that Keane would be happy to move on.

Striker Kevin Lisbie, who has one more year of his Town contract to run, would be happy to return to Colchester United for another season-long loan next term.

The 31-year-old, who netted 13 goals for the U’s and joined Town from the Essex club Colchester for �750,000 in the summer of 2008, said: “I haven’t got a clue what the future holds.

“But I would like to stay with Colchester.”

Yeovil Town left back Nathan Smith has been linked with a move to Town with his current contract coming to an end while Liam Trotter is involved in the League One play-offs for the second consecutive season.

After helping to get Scunthorpe up he is seeking to do the same with Millwall and he will face his former Town team mates Jordan Rhodes and Gary Roberts in the semi-final against Huddersfield.

Wickham has been named in the England squad for the European Under-17 Championship being held in Liechtenstein later this month, while ex-Town striker James Scowcroft has been released by League One Leyton Orient after failing to score in 30 appearances.

Veliche Shumulikoski has had a trial with Leeds United after having his contract at Preston settled. The Macedonian joined Preston from Town for �400,000 last summer.

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