Juan agrees to return

MONACO midfielder Jimmy Juan will today sign a one-year loan deal with Ipswich Town.Blues chairman David Sheepshanks last night revealed the Frenchman had agreed to return to Portman Road and would be a key figure in Joe Royle's new-look side.

By Derek Davis

MONACO midfielder Jimmy Juan will today sign a one-year loan deal with Ipswich Town.

Blues chairman David Sheepshanks last night revealed the Frenchman had agreed to return to Portman Road and would be a key figure in Joe Royle's new-look side.

At least one more new arrival at Portman Road is on the cards and exciting wing duo Dean McDonald and Jaime Peters are close to signing, along with skipper Jim Magilton.


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Sheepshanks said: “We have had confirmation from Jimmy that he will sign for us on a one-year loan deal and he is expected to arrive on Wednesday.

“He has had Champions' League experience so we are hopeful he will kick on and be a first-team regular.”

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Town are close to securing a left-back and while David Unsworth has been uppermost in Royle's mind since being told he can leave Portsmouth, the manager is hot on the trail of another defender.

Sheepshanks confirmed: “There is one player in particular who we are close to signing.”

Jim Magilton will meet with Royle today and if they can reach agreement, he will sign his new one-year deal.

McDonald may well put pen to paper today as well and Canadian international Peters is also expected to sign soon.

But Sheepshanks denied Town had offered Portsmouth keeper Shaka Hislop a deal, despite the former West Ham and Newcastle keeper's claims to the contrary.

He said: “We have not made Shaka Hislop an offer and it is unlikely that we will.”

Town's preparation for the new Championship season will now include a two-game trip to Hungary.

They are due to play Ujpest in Budapest on Thursday, July 21 and three days later meet Diosgyor UTK. The Blues will return to Portman Road to face a big-name opponent, in addition to Glasgow Rangers, the following weekend, which the club are hoping to reveal today.

Sheepshanks also told the EADT how a call from the departing Shefki Kuqi left him with a heavy heart.

Kuqi last night completed his Bosman free transfer to Blackburn Rovers, despite Town's attempts to keep him.

Sheepshanks said: “In probably the sweetest telephone call I have ever had from a player, he called me to say how sorry he was to be leaving, how much he enjoyed the relationship he had with the fans, with Joe, with me and other employees of the club. He was leaving with a heavy heart and we are seeing him go with a heavy heart but the reality is he had to go.”

The Kosovo-born 28-year-old is thrilled to get a chance to play in the Premiership but it was the presence of the former Manchester United and Barcelona striker Mark Hughes that really swung the deal.

Kuqi said: “I spoke to Mark Hughes and it was a great conversation. It made me even more interested to come here. He is a big hero, he was a lot of fans' favourite player, and even in Kosovo people spoke highly of him.

“He told me that I was wanted and I'm ready, I'm not going to say I'll be playing week-in and week-out but my target is to do my best and see what will happen. It was always my goal to play in the Premier League and now I'm here I'm really delighted.”

Town have brought in Sam Parkin and Nicky Forster to replace Kuqi and Darren Bent and, while conceding it won't be easy next season, Sheepshanks believes Town fans will have plenty to cheer.

He said: “Next year will be tough. The division will be tough. Our neighbours Norwich will be strong, as will the other relegated clubs.

“Wolves and Leeds will be stronger than they were but we are utterly determined that we will be challenging as well.

“Some of it by design, some by default but there have been wholesale change in the team, but new blood can be positive and we have to make sure that is the side at Ipswich, augmented by the fabulous young players we have pushing through.

“There will be no more goings but hopefully one or two comings and I'm sure there will be plenty of excitement at Portman road next season.”

Free agent James Scowcroft is due to hold talks with Burnley when he returns from his holiday in France.

Former Blues boss George Burley has held talks with Hearts about their managerial vacancy.

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