Magilton's fight to keep key trio

BLUES boss Jim Magilton faces a fight to keep at least three of his top performers before Monday's transfer window closes.

Derek Davis

BLUES boss Jim Magilton faces a fight to keep at least three of his top performers before Monday's transfer window closes.

After allowing Alan Lee the chance to join Crystal Palace, Magilton is determined to keep hold of his best players with Premier League clubs are showing strong interest in Pablo Counago, Owen Garvan and Jon Walters, but would need to offer top money to secure any of them.

Although he still wants at least one more player in the door before midnight Monday, Magilton will be mightily relieved when the transfer window closes.

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That will end speculation, for the time being at least, that last year's player of the year Walters is Premiership bound.

Fresh reports yesterday claimed Walters had handed in a transfer request but Town chief executive Derek Bowden last night insisted that was not the case.

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Bowden said: “Nothing has changed. Jon has not handed in a transfer request and we have had no offers for him.”

We understand that Stoke City are poised to make a bid for Walters while West Brom - looking to strengthen after a poor start - are also believed to be keen, along with former club Hull City.

Speculation about Walters has been rife all summer, not helped by the player's silence, but Ipswich are determined to hang on to a player who still has three years left on his contract.

Magilton is equally stubborn in his quest to keep Garvan and Counago, who both recently signed new three-year deals.

Garvan rejected an initial contract offer but acquiesced even though he knew of interest from a number of Premier League sides including Aston Villa and Everton.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad is keen to push into the national senior side and play in the top flight.

He missed Tuesday's League Cup win over Colchester United due to a stomach bug watched by an unusually high number of Premier League scouts, including one from each of the big four.

Pablo Counago shone that night and Wigan and Bolton are understood to head the list of clubs interested in the inventive former Celta Vigo forward.

Counago has shown no desire to leave Town although he is ambitious to have another crack at the top flight in England.

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