Wickham Ipswich Town contract extension to 2014

CONNOR Wickham is due to put pen to paper today on a contract extension that will tie him down to Portman Road until the summer of 2014.

But former Ipswich Town coach Charlie Woods thinks that the club will benefit from selling the hot property in the summer – if they can agree a deal that would see him loaned back next season.

Wickham’s new deal adds one year to his current one with the sought-after striker able to lengthen his stay on his 18th birthday on March 31 as restrictions no longer apply.

The move confirmed by Town manager Paul Jewell today is concrete evidence that Wickham has no desire to leave Ipswich.

It shows that it would take a very big incentive to turn his head with any lucrative offer that might come his way from a top Premier League club.

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It also safeguards Ipswich’s position to ensure they get a realistic fee for one of the most talented teenagers around if he does move on within the next two years or so.

Liverpool are believed to be keeping close tabs on the impressive youngster who has scored seven goals this season and is set to play a major role in tomorrow’s Championship game against Crystal Palace at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm).

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Woods, who helped to turn a host of players into internationals during his time as Ipswich youth team manager in the Seventies, rates Wickham highly.

“If I was still chief scout at Tottenham and Newcastle I would be showing a big interest in Connor,” said Woods, who can see the benefit to Town manager Paul Jewell of having �7 or �8 million from the sale of Wickham to spend on strengthening his squad in the close season.

“Any deal that would benefit the Ipswich coffers and enable them to use Connor next season would be an ideal solution.

“Connor still needs games under his belt, and under the management of Paul Jewell next season he will become a better player and learn his trade.”

Woods has now retired and celebrated his 70th birthday last month, although he still does some scouting work for Spurs.

He is not party to any knowledge that Tottenham are keen on Wickham with Liverpool still the big favourites if any summer bid is to be made although Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger has been showing some interest and loves to develop his own young players.

Wickham has scored all his goals this campaign since Jewell took over from Roy Keane in January as Ipswich manager.

If Jewell is to bring in the fire power – the big hitters as he calls them – he is targeting in the summer plus Jimmy Bullard perhaps he might need more cash than club owner Marcus Evans is ably to supply.

Any bounty from Wickham would be welcome, and particularly so if he can do a deal that still sees the striker remaining at his disposal next term.

WHAT are you views on Ipswich selling Wickham and loaning him back next season? Let us know, e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk.

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