No Boro in for Bent

PREMIERSHIP strugglers Middlesbrough have joined the hunt for Ipswich Town striker Marcus Bent.Steve McClaren's side are the third club to make a move for former England Under-21 international Bent, who is likely to leave today.

PREMIERSHIP strugglers Middlesbrough have joined the hunt for Ipswich Town striker Marcus Bent.

Steve McClaren's side are the third club to make a move for former England Under-21 international Bent, who is likely to leave today.

The EADT revealed last week that Leeds United were tracking Bent and Leicester City had renewed their interest in the former Blackburn hit-man.

Blues boss Joe Royle last night confirmed Peter Reid had been in touch about Bent and the Foxes were looking to secure the 25-year-old, if they fail in their bid to land Jason Roberts on loan from West Bromwich Albion.


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He also admitted Steve McClaren had asked about taking Bent, who has scored once this season and shown good form in a struggling Ipswich side.

Boro are late-comers in the race to sign Bent after the Premiership transfer deadline was extended until 5pm today. The cut-off time would otherwise have been yesterday when most administration staff are not working.

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Royle said: "This could be a big day or a dead day. We have had a lot of interest in Marcus, primarily from Leicester, while Peter Reid called me this (Sunday) morning asking about him.

"Middlesbrough have asked about him and I imagine we will hear more during the morning."

Foxes boss Mickey Adams will make a firm bid for Bent if Baggies striker Roberts turns them down today. Wigan have had a £2m bid accepted for the former non-league striker but Wolves and Everton have also stepped in to take the Grenada international who has fallen out with Baggies boss Gary Megson.

Leeds boss Peter Reid has personally checked out Bent, he was also at Town's game at Crewe, and wants to add to his strike-force. He will swoop for the Town star if he fails in his bid to sign Marseille striker Cyril Chapuis on loan.

United were worried Australian striker Mark Viduka made be tempted by Inter Milan but that deal appears to be buried, and they added to their squad last night by signing Chapuis' club mate Salomon Olembe, a 22-year-old Cameroon international midfielder.

Bent was excluded from the 16-man squad on Saturday against West Ham as Royle did not want to risk him getting injured and thus jeopardising any move.

The club need to sell Bent, even if it is for a nominal fee, in order to allow Royle the capacity to bring in one, or even two new players.

Royle has identified the players he wants and has made enquiries concerning their availability but cannot make a move until he has moved a player off the wage bill. He said: "I have asked about a couple of players but that is as far as it has gone at the moment.

"There is no real rush to bring someone in now as we have nearly two weeks before our next game but I would like to get something sorted as soon as we can."

If a Bent deal is done today, Alun Armstrong's position would change drastically.

Royle was impressed with the striker in the 2-1 defeat by West Ham and admitted if Bent left, he would be happy to keep the former Middlesbrough striker.

Armstrong is still on the free-transfer list, although Town turned down George Burley's request to take him on loan to Derby County 10 days ago. Royle said: "Alun did very well on Saturday. He showed he is strong and fit and can do a very good job up front.

"But we can't really afford to have him and Marcus."

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