Offers accepted for Town duo

IPSWICH Town's current financial plight has forced the club's administrators to accept undisclosed offers for star teenager Darren Ambrose and experienced Iceland international Hermann Hreidarsson.

IPSWICH Town's current financial plight has forced the club's administrators to accept undisclosed offers for star teenager Darren Ambrose and experienced Iceland international Hermann Hreidarsson, writes Tony Garnett.

Ambrose is expected to travel to Tyneside today to discuss personal terms with Newcastle United and undergo a medical. He misses this afternoon's league match against Brighton and Hove Albion at Portman Road.

Hreidarsson, currently on the injured list with a gashed thigh, will see Pompey manager Harry Redknapp early next week when the move is expected to be finalised.

A club statement read: "Deals have been agreed in principle with Portsmouth for the transfer of Hermann Hreidarsson and with Newcastle United for the transfer of Darren Ambrose.


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"Both players will be travelling to speak to the clubs in question over the next couple of days. Nothing is likely to be finalised until Monday at the earliest."

Club chairman David Sheepshanks said: "These sales were a necessity in our current situation and the matter was largely out of our hands.

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"Supporters will be disappointed about the need to sell when we are so close to the play-offs. No matter how much we wish it were different, regrettably financial institutions only work on certainty and not on hope value.

"We still have a strong team and we all hope that in the face of this adversity we can still challenge for and gain a play-off spot."

Ipswich Town manager Joe Royle said: "It's a sad loss but not totally unexpected but now we've got to get on with it.

"The survival of the club is all important and we must accept it. It will not affect our determination to go for a play-off place."

With Ipswich Town in such a weak negotiating position the fees will be considerably less that might normally have been the case. Neither Portsmouth nor Newcastle are prepared to reveal the figures, but maybe Ambrose might be valued at £1.5 million and Hreidarsson at £1 million.

Had Ipswich been odds-on for an immediate return to the Premiership, like Leicester City, the bankers might have taken a different view.

In fact, the sale of Hreidarsson will make no immediate difference to Town's play-off chances because he would not have been ready to return to first-team duty until the final couple of games of the season at the earliest.

His thigh injury, sustained against Stoke City a fortnight ago, is healing well and should not prevent him from passing a medical with next season in mind.

Redknapp said: "Hermann can play in three or four positions and has got international quality. I only make inquiries for players I think are good enough. He definitely comes into that category.

"We need to bolster our squad for next season. Hreidarsson can play in the Premiership, no problems."

Ambrose might not have started against Brighton anyway today if manager Joe Royle decided to stick to the side that took three points off Reading on Tuesday night with an impressive performance.

Apparently Newcastle United would be prepared to let Ambrose remain on loan at Portman Road for the rest of the season, but that would need a special ruling from the Football League. Clubs in administration are not permitted to take new players on loan, but there might be different interpretation for a player in Ambrose's position as he is already on the books.

The income from these two sales, so long as they go through without a hitch, should mean that Ipswich will not be forced to sell any other players between now and the end of the season. Promotion would ease Town's problems but if the club remains in the Nationwide League then there are sure to be more sales in the summer.

There has been speculation about a possible move for Matt Holland to Charlton. The administrators will no doubt have checked if there was any genuine interest in an immediate deal.

Holland, who makes his 253rd consecutive league appearance for Ipswich today, said: "I have heard only the speculation stories in the papers. We have given ourselves a chance now of getting in the play-offs and I am focused on that target. My ideal scenario is to be playing Premiership football again next season with Ipswich."

Royle has midfielder Tommy Miller available after injury but the former Hartlepool man may have to settle for a place on the bench. Ipswich are likely to stick with a winning side which would mean Martijn Reuser playing on the left wing and Richard Naylor continuing his good work in central defence.

Ipswich are admitting juniors for £2 to today's match, which should swell the gate.

Today's squads

Ipswich Town: Marshall; Wilnis, Naylor, Gaardsoe, Makin, Wright, Magilton, Holland, Miller, Reuser, M Bent, D Bent, Counago, Bowditch, Richards, Westlake and Pullen (gk).

Brighton & Hove Albion: Beasant; Ingimarsson, Cullip, Blackwell, Watson, Rodger, Carpenter, Brooker, Mayo, Rougier, Barrett, Hart, Jones, Wilkinson and Packham (gk).

Referee: Mr Paul Danson (Leicester).

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