Town to rekindle interest in defender

THE way is clear for Ipswich Town to resurrect their interest in Derby County defender Jay McEveley.

Town boss Roy Keane targeted the versatile McEveley during the January transfer window, in his quest to find an experienced left-back.

The Scottish international, who can also operate as a centre-half, chose to stay at Pride Park to see out his contract, but talks over a new deal have broken down and the 25-year-old was released by the Rams yesterday. His contract officially expires at the beginning of June.

Even though Shane O’Connor impressed in the left-back role during the second half of last season, Keane is planning to bolster his squad with four or five new players, including more cover in defensive positions.

Full-backs David Wright (not offered a new contract) and Liam Rosenior (loan move from Reading expired) have both left the club, while Damien Delaney is facing a race against time to be fit for the new season after damaging ankle ligaments at Nottingham Forest last month.

Delaney played at both left-back and as a left-sided centre-half last term.

McEveley was purchased by then-Derby boss Billy Davies from Blackburn Rovers in January, 2007, for a fee of �600,000, having two years earlier played 19 games on loan at Ipswich.

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He went on to help the Rams clinch promotion to the Premier League, via the play-offs, and has totalled 101 appearances for the club in his three-and-a-half year stint at Pride Park.

McEveley’s availability will no doubt interest Keane. He fits the bill of an experienced, “streetwise” player, the sort of character that the Town boss is hoping to add to his squad for next season.

He actually played in 33 of Derby’s 46 league games last season, although boss Nigel Clough chose not to offer him a new deal. Wages were a stumbling block, while Clough is also keen to freshen up his squad. To that end, he also released midfielder Gary Teale yesterday.

Clough said: “Both served the club well, but we felt we needed a break from the past. They are model professionals and I’m sure they will get fixed up elsewhere.

“People have to understand the contracts they were on. We certainly couldn’t get anywhere near that.”

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