Town face battle to capture Balde

IPSWICH Town are interested in landing Celtic defender Bobo Balde but face a battle with Championship rivals Birmingham City.

Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town are interested in landing Celtic defender Bobo Balde but face a battle with Championship rivals Birmingham City.

Town also face a tussle with Wolves for left-back Ben Thatcher, who is a free agent.

Ipswich are understood to be among a clutch of clubs keen to capture Guinea international Balde who has been told he can leave the Bhoys on a free transfer.

But the 32-year-old, who has one year left on his contract at Parkhead is currently on around £28,000-a-week and even though Town have money to spend courtesy of Marcus Evans, that could prove a stumbling-block unless they can work a deal with a signing on fee, and a long-term contract.

Freshly-relegated Birmingham City, with last year's Premier League cash and around £11million in parachute money, are believed to be further along in terms of negotiations with the French-born player who handles his own affairs and are favourites to sign him. But Ipswich manager Jim Magilton is keen to land the central defender who won nine winners medals with Celtic and at 6ft 3in is a commanding centre-half with experience.

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Magilton is also keen to secure former Charlton, Manchester City, Spurs and Millwall defender Thatcher, who is in talks with Town about a deal after impressing in the pre-season trip to Belfast but Wolves boss Mick McCarthy is looking to scupper the deal.

The Wolves boss took Ian Harte on a pre-season tour but the former Leeds man failed to impress with reports that he was carrying excess weight, which has meant McCarthy turning his attentions to Thatcher who was a team-mate of newly signed striker Chris Iwelumo at the Valley last season.

While Town continue to try and bring in new players, Magilton has clawed back some cash, with Gary Roberts' move to Huddersfield Town completed last night.

The fee has been declared undisclosed but reports vary from between £100,000 to £250,000.