Parkin set for Blues talks

Ipswich Town are hoping their Premiership pedigree, and Joe Royle's personal magnetism, will be enough to persuade ambitious Swindon Town striker Sam Parkin to come to Portman Road, writes David Vincent.

Ipswich Town are hoping their Premiership pedigree, and Joe Royle's personal magnetism, will be enough to persuade ambitious Swindon Town striker Sam Parkin to come to Portman Road, writes David Vincent.

League One Swindon yesterday gave Town permission to talk to their No. 1 target.

Town boss Royle will now deliver a 'come and join us in our next promotion-chasing campaign' invitation.

Parkin, who has bounced back after being rejected by first club Chelsea to become one of the hottest properties in the lower divisions, is desperate to climb towards the football elite.

He is the sort of 20-goals-a-season striker every team needs. And former centre-forward Royle, who wore the England shirt with pride as well as Everton and Norwich City, could be the man to help Parkin achieve his personal goals.

Royle can offer him regular first-team football at the top end of the Championship.

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Parkin wore the No. 9 shirt at Swindon and could take over in an identical position at Ipswich if the two clubs can agree a transfer deal and he likes the prospect of a move to Suffolk. As a Londoner, he would not be too far from his roots.

With Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington's interest in the striker seeming to cool, Ipswich will have to defeat Championship rivals Watford for his signature instead.

The Robins have given both Ipswich and Watford permission to speak to the player. Chief executive Sandy Gray said: "We have received several bids for Sam and, providing these offers meet our expectations, we will not stand in his way.

"Sam has been a tremendous servant to this Football Club but he declined the chance to extend his contract so the key thing now is to make sure we get the best deal for Swindon Town FC."

Swindon rate Parkin, who cost them a £50,000 fee, at around 10 times that figure after scoring 70 goals in his three seasons at the County Ground.

Ipswich would obviously need to match whatever transfer fee Watford offered. And then they would invite him to visit Portman Road to meet Royle, to tour their impressive stadium and walk out on the pitch and also visit the training centre at Rushmere.

Royle's record of improving players speaks for itself, at Town and his previous club. He turned journeyman striker Shefki Kuqi into a player who could command a Premiership move.

With better players around him, and good coaching, Kuqi's touch and goalscoring record improved tremendously while at Portman Road. Now he has moved on, and Royle has earmarked Parkin as his replacement.

Yesterday Royle said: "I won't deny we are interested in Sam, He was top of our list if Shefki went. But our interest is still very much at an early stage and, beyond that, I don't want to say too much."

Norwich can only offer Parkin a squad role as he would be down the pecking order with the Canaries, behind Darren Huckerby and Dean Ashton. If Ashton were the subject of a large bid, producing a substantial profit on their £3 million investment, that could change. There is no sign of that happening yet. All Worthington would say was: "Yes, we have got an interest in the situation and yes, we are monitoring its progress."

Other interested parties Crewe and Brighton seem to have dropped out of the race.

Parkin, at 6ft 2ins, is strong in the air but is not simply a traditional target man. He has a good first touch, can hold the ball up well and bring other players into the game. He would fit in well with Town's passing game.

Royle also wants to bring in Reading's out-of-contract striker Nicky Forster as a direct replacement for his other departed striker Darren Bent.

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