Leadbitter set for Sunderland after rejecting Ipswich, plus speculation surrounding ex-Blues duo Moore and Clarke
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Middlesbrough midfielder Grant Leadbitter has reportedly turned down Ipswich Town for the chance rejoin his boyhood club Sunderland.
The Northern Echo reports that Championship trio Ipswich, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers all made formal approaches to sign a player in the last six months of his contract, but that Leadbitter – who has made just one Championship start this season – rejected them all.
Instead, the 33-year-old will be dropping down to League One as the Black Cats, currently third in the table under manager Jack Ross, push for a quickfire return to the second-tier.
Leadbitter made 123 appearances for Sunderland, helping them to promotion to the Premier League under Roy Keane in 2007.
Keane later brought him to Portman Road for £2.6m and he made 126 appearances for the Blues between 2009 and 2012 before making a Bosman free transfer move to Middlesbrough.
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Meanwhile, Sunderland are also said to be interested in former Town striker Kieffer Moore.
The Blues turned a quick and tidy profit on the towering front man, signing him from Forest Green for £10k in January 2017, loaning him to Rotherham and then and selling him to Barnsley for £750k a year later.
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The 26-year-old has scored 15 goals in League One for the fifth-place Tykes this season.
He is said to be on Sunderland’s list of striker targets but that Wigan’s Will Grigg is their prime target.
Elsewhere, Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett has ruled out selling Matt Clarke following reports that Stoke City were prepared to make a £6m bid.
Centre-back Clarke, 22, came through the Ipswich Town academy before moving to Pompey in a player-plus-cash (£700k) deal for Adam Webster in 2016. Ipswich are understood to have a 20% sell-on clause on the player.
Jackett, whose team sit top of the League One table, said: “First off, we’re not interested in selling him. Secondly, we’ve not had an inquiry or a bid.
“We’re not interested in selling Matt Clarke. We’re not interested, that’s the case. It’s not anything we’d entertain. He’s not for sale.”