TRANSFER RUMOUR: Is Paul Jewell about to call time on Steve Davies summer hunt?

PAUL Jewell is close to conceding defeat in his hopes of adding Steve Davies to his strike-force in time for the start of the new season.

While a deal could still be struck before the end of the summer transfer window on August 31, we understand the Blues boss is set to look elsewhere for now as Derby County continue to play hardball over their top scorer.

Town’s hunt for the 24-year-old has turned into something of a saga with Jewell unwilling to pay, what he perceives to be, over-the-odds and Rams boss Nigel Clough standing firm despite Davies having only a year left on his contract and publicly saying goodbye to Derby fans earlier this summer.

Just 10 days before the Championship curtain-raiser against Blackburn Rovers, Jewell is doing everything he can to add one or two new faces to his squad – and a striker remains a priority.

But that might not be Davies with sources close to both clubs suggesting Town’s interest has cooled over the last few days – as divisional rivals Brighton and Bristol City reportedly show interest.

The Rams frontman was initially expected to play his first friendly of the summer last night against non-league Belper Town.

But he remained a spectator and he is again set to miss the Rams’ home game against Sunderland tonight.

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But rather than be a sign of him edging closer to a move to Portman Road, something the player was interested in, Davies is instead not being rushed into match action having missed all of the pre-season friendlies thus far.

Instead, the striker, who has been training with the Rams’ first team this week, should play some part in Saturday’s final pre-season game against Chesterfield.

Clough now faces a tough decision. Keep Davies for the forthcoming season and lose him for nothing at the end of it or hope that a club meets his asking price for the forward – something Jewell appears unwilling to do.