WEB POLL: Should Grant Leadbitter play as contract talks continue to stall?

PAUL Jewell has revealed he will give Grant Leadbitter until the end of the season to make up his mind over a new deal.

The Blues boss had initially said he wanted a decision from his midfielder this week, with Leadbitter set to become a free agent in the summer and rival Championship clubs circling.

But Jewell has done a U-turn on his initial thoughts and said he would give the 26-year-old more time rather than risk “forcing him into a corner”.

The manager said: “I spoke to Grant at length yesterday and talks are ongoing. I think a few months ago, I expected him to being leave the club and I think Grant expected to be going.

“But he has been one of our best players in recent weeks and giving him till the end of season won’t make much difference.”

Jewell was more certain on other contract talks with seven players reaching the end of their current deal.

Of the other six:

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- IBRAHIMA SONKO: The defender will be leaving Ipswich at the end of his current contract. Jewell praised the impact and influence of the experienced centre-back, but said he had to look at next season’s finances.

- TOMMY SMITH: The New Zealand international has been offered a new deal and Jewell is confident that Smith will sign for the club.

- LEE BOWYER: Jewell was less certain about the future of the experienced midfielder. Talks are ongoing but the Blues boss said Bowyer would have to accept reduced terms.

- JASON SCOTLAND: Negotiations continue with the striker but we understand talks are positive.

- RICHARD WRIGHT & CODY CROPPER: Jewell said there were no new developments on either of his back-up keepers.

* Elsewhere, Jewell confirmed that he expected young right-back Callum Bennett to leave after the former academy player rejected the club’s initial offer.