Kuqi keen to stay

SHEFKI Kuqi wants to repay the Ipswich Town supporters by signing a new contract in the summer, writes Derek Davis.But first the Blues striker, who has been voted the Supporters Player of the Year, wants to help fire Town into the Premiership.

SHEFKI Kuqi wants to repay the Ipswich Town supporters by signing a new contract in the summer, writes Derek Davis.

But first the Blues striker, who has been voted the Supporters Player of the Year, wants to help fire Town into the Premiership.

The Finland international, who has hit 17 goals for Town this season took 45% of the 10,000 votes to scoop the award won by Ian Westlake last year.

A delighted Kuqi last night thanked the fans and revealed to the EADT that he plans to give them a couple of presents in return.


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He said: "I have already had some talks with the club and it won't take me long to sign a new contract.

"But first we need to see where we finish and all we are concentrating on now is getting into the Premiership."

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Kuqi joined from Sheffield Wednesday in September 2003 and signed an initial contract until July 2005, with an option of another year if Town get promoted.

Both parties are likely to agree to that should Town garnish enough points from their remaining two games, or go up via the play-offs, but Kuqi has indicated he would like to be here in August no matter what.

He said: "I really enjoy it here and being part of this team. Our target is to get promotion so we will finish the season and see where we are."

It was expected that the 28-year-old Kosovan-born forward would win the fans' vote, especially after his magnificent start to the season.

Kuqi said: "It is really good news for me and I thank all the fans. They have been magnificent, not just to me but for the whole team. When we see them travel to games in the numbers they do and the support they give us, it really helps us.

"It is nice to win this but we have all had a really good season as a team and we all hope it can continue over these last two games."

His form dipped after picking up an injury against Leicester City but is picking up again and Kuqi hopes to give the fans even more to celebrate this weekend.

He said: "Hopefully we can get a great result on Saturday so we can go into the last day at Brighton looking forward to another massive game and the right result."

Kelvin Davis and Richard Naylor were the runners-up in the supporters' vote and all three are in with a chance of winning the Players' Player of the Year award too.

Naylor is neck-and-neck with 19-goal leading scorer Darren Bent for the EADT Player of the Year award, sponsored by Powergen.

Kuqi and Davis will miss out on this prestigious prize as the award is judged on the average marks handed out during the season.

With no points awarded for missing games, the duo will be disadvantaged.

Davis was this week voted the top keeper in the Championship by his peers in the FA Divisional awards – and even rival managers agreed with the choice.

Leeds United boss Kevin Blackwell admitted bias in thinking his keeper Neil Sullivan should have won the PFA Championship award but fully accepted Davis was the worthy winner.

Blackwell said: "Sully can't have been far away. For me, he would be in there, but he's my goalkeeper so I suppose I'm bound to say that.

"Sully has been magnificent for me this season and he couldn't have given any more.

But if I had to go for someone other than Sully, it had to be Kelvin Davis.

"If he hadn't played as well as he has for Ipswich, then they probably wouldn't be where they are now.

"If it had been anyone other than Davis, though, you could have knocked me over because Sully had to be up there."

It is not just the players who are picking up top awards, with Alan Ferguson again picking up top Groundsman of the Year in the Championship for his Portman Road pitch and training ground facilities.

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