Johnson speculation mounting

CRYSTAL Palace chairman Simon Jordan, whose side face Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, must wish the transfer window was frozen shut for next month to stop the speculation mounting about Andy Johnson leaving for a Premiership club, while Blues boss Joe Royle simply hopes the striker is struck down with flu.

By Derek Davis

CRYSTAL Palace chairman Simon Jordan, whose side face Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, must wish the transfer window was frozen shut for next month to stop the speculation mounting about Andy Johnson leaving for a Premiership club, while Blues boss Joe Royle simply hopes the striker is struck down with flu.

Despite spending most of this season on the treatment table with a knee injury, Johnson remains the Palace talisman, netting seven goals in the 10 games he has played.

His form in the Premiership last season, which saw him net 22 goals and win two England caps, has marked him out as a must-buy for a number of top-flight managers.


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Everton, Southampton and Birmingham City all failed in bids and now Jordan, who has been listed as the 45th-richest man in football with a personal wealth of £40m, this week knocked back a £5.5m offer for Johnson and warned even double that would not entice him to sell.

He said: “West Ham have been on but Andy Johnson is not for sale. It doesn't matter what they offer because he is not leaving this football club. I turned down £9m in the summer so why should I sell him for £5.5m? The money is irrelevant, he is not for sale.”

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With Clinton Morrison, Dougie Freedman and Jon Macken also in their ranks, Royle doesn't believe Palace are over-reliant on Johnson, but he would prefer it if the England striker missed the trip to Portman Road through illness.

Royle said: “There can be a reaction when there is so much transfer speculation with a player who may not be with their club from February.

“Norwich are having a similar problem with Dean Ashton, they are seen as Championship team with a Premiership striker.

“It may not unsettle people but it can't help continuity. But that is Palace's problem, and I wish I had the problem of Andy Johnson.

“I could do without having him as a problem on Monday, mind you it is a good time for flu.

“Palace are one of the strongest sides in the division, despite their league position at the moment, which they will be disappointed with.

“They have forwards that we would all envy and, with Macken coming back, along with Johnson, Morrison and Freedman, you would expect them to improve in the second half of the season, as I expect us to.”

Palace have so many attacking options they tend to use three up front and, despite Royle's wishful thinking, Johnson will be fit to lead their attack on Monday, unless he is hit by the flu bug in the next 48 hours.

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