UPDATED: Town bid for Pompey trio remains alive but will go down to the wire

IPSWICH Town’s marathon pursuit of Portsmouth trio Jason Pearce, Joel Ward and Stephen Henderson could still be successful – but might not be decided until AFTER tonight’s match against West Ham.

The saga looked set for a disappointing conclusion this morning with the clubs locked in discussions but time running out.

But we understand that the deal is far from dead as Ipswich look to tie up one, two or all three of the players.

With the January transfer window closing at 11pm, the Blues are very much working against the clock, but have this afternoon refused to concede defeat.

Chief executive Simon Clegg worked through the night to try and seal the deal and has continued negotiations throughout today.

But it could go down to the death and not be decided until after tonight’s home match against the table-topping Hammers who themselves have been busy today after all but signing Ravel Morrison from Manchester United and Nicky Maynard from Bristol City.

The precarious financial situation at Portsmouth – a bank account frozen by HMRC yesterday due to an unpaid �1.6m tax bill – always left the door open for player exits before today’s 11pm transfer deadline though.

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Keeper Henderson and the versatile Ward both trained with their current employers this morning though.

And while Pearce was not spotted, a spokesman for the club says he was simply receiving treatment following his appearance in Pompey’s 3-0 win at Peterborough at the weekend.

A source close to Pearce has told the EADT and Ipswich Star they would be ‘amazed’ if a deal happened. They insist the defender – who professed his love of Pompey over the weekend – has not been told he will be sold.

Fans have been left frustrated by the perceived lack of activity at Portman Road today and their hopes of snapping up the trio remain very much on a knife-edge.

Pompey’s much-publicised financial problems have actually worked against Ipswich with negotiations far from smooth between the two clubs and the administrators working at the South Coast club.

But we can reveal that it will be too late for Paul Jewell to work on a Plan B should he be unsuccessful in his raid on the divisional rivals.

Meanwhile, Town are set to be disappointed in their attempts to sign young Falkrik defender Murray Wallace.

The 19-year-old centre-back came to Suffolk on Monday for talks but League One Huddersfield are set to beat Ipswich and Brighton for his signature after offering an improved package.

Meanwhile, a source close to midfielder Keith Andrews has told the EADT and Star that he will not be signing for Ipswich today – despite reports elsewhere that a move to Wigan is looking unlikely.

Blues boss Paul Jewell hoped to sign the Republic of Ireland international following his impressive loan spell at the club from Blackburn in the first half of the season.

The 31-year-old – who still has 18 months left on his contract – has reportedly put in a transfer request at Ewood Park.

Ipswich host Championship table-toppers West Ham at Portman Road tonight (7.45pm).