Town target Premier League defender

IPSWICH Town are considering a January move for Belgian international Carl Hoefkens.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town are considering a January move for Belgian international Carl Hoefkens.

Blues boss Jim Magilton and chief scout Steve McCall recently ran the rule over the West Brom defender in a reserve team game and could offer the 30-year-old a chance for regular first team football.

Town are looking for cover in defence and with Alex Bruce set to leave in January after not being offered a new contract, they see Hoefkens as the ideal replacement.

Hoefkens was a regular in the Baggies defence that won the Championship last season but has made just two starts for Tony Mowbray's side this season after losing his place to Dutch Under-21 star Gianni Zuuverloon.

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The Baggies are also understood to be ready to make a £500,000 bid for Portsmouth centre back Hermann Hreidarsson and would be willing to allow Hoefkens, whose contract expires next summer, to leave for a nominal fee in January.

The right-footed defender can play full back or centre half and has won 22 caps for his country but suffered a foot injury for Belgium against Portugal in Euro 2008. He joined the Baggies for around £750,000 in the summer of 2007 from Stoke City where he was Player of the Year for 2005/06 season.

Seen as a ball-playing defender known for good distribution from the back Hoefkens also had a 100 per cent scoring record from the penalty spot with five goals at the Britannia Stadium.

Magilton has made no secret of his desire to bring in at least one more centre-half and with Bruce likely to go in the new year, he will look for more cover.

Irish free agent Graham Gartland is a possibility after impressing during a trial with Town following his release from Drogheda United.

Celtic defender Darren O'Dea is another young Irish centre half that the Blues have enquired about and their exit from Europe and his lack of first team opportunities may make that a strong possibility.

Gareth McAuley has recovered from a hamstring problem and will be looking to regain his place in the Town defence although Bruce has impressed since getting back in and scoring his first career goal against his old club Birmingham City on Tuesday.

Moritz Volz was left out on Tuesday despite being available after a one-match ban and Dutch defender Pim Balkestein is also hoping to force his way into the starting line up.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk