Plenty of players on a free

FOOTBALL'S bubble has definitely burst as far as the majority of players are concerned, and this week 589 find themselves unwanted by their current club and available for nothing.

FOOTBALL'S bubble has definitely burst as far as the majority of players are concerned, and this week 589 find themselves unwanted by their current club and available for nothing.

The free transfer list – released yesterday – makes interesting reading for supporters, and Ipswich fans will be wondering which names have been ringed by boss Joe Royle as potential targets now the club is out of administration.

Some famous names feature. Teddy Sheringham, Chris Armstrong, Paolo di Canio and Patrik Berger are all hoping to be snapped up, with Sheringham the most likely to stay in the Premiership.

The key areas for strengthening at Ipswich Town are at the back, with a centre-half and possibly two new goalkeepers the priority. There are players aplenty available in both positions, but it will all come down to wages in the end, with Town keen to keep the salary bill to around £5m a year from now on.

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Spurs' Alton Thelwell, Manchester United's David May, Blackburn's Henning Berg, West Ham's Nigel Winterburn and Middlesbrough's Tony Vidmar have all been deemed surplus to requirements at their current clubs, but wage demands are likely to put them out of Royle's reach.

More realistic might be Division One players such as Neil Cox, who has Premiership experience with Aston Villa, or Sheffield United's Rob Kozluk, but Royle has already been linked several times with Burnley defender Drisso Diallo, and if that deal came to fruition more speculation may be fruitless.

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In the goalkeeping area there are fewer names to choose from. Tim Flowers and Simon Royce have both been released by Leicester City, and Gary Walsh is not wanted at Bradford. Chelsea are also willing to let Ed de Goey go without a fee.

Ipswich are rumoured to be eyeing Grimsby's Welsh keeper Danny Coyne after the Blundell Park club dropped into Division Two and need to slash costs. Ian Bennett and Paul Gerrard are two other keepers Royle is known to rate highly.

Town themselves have eight players on the free transfer list – Alun Armstrong, Andy Marshall, James Pullen, Lee Beevers, Mark Venus, Martijn Reuser, Nabil Abidallah and Robert Dickinson – but they are by no means the biggest cost-cutters.

It seems the biggest bargain basement location is Sheffield, where the cities' two clubs have between them placed 21 players on the 'free' list, United leading the way with 12 men surplus to requirements.

Just down the M1, newly-promoted Leicester City have also put 12 players on the list.

While the bigger names are sure to be fixed up quickly, the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor is concerned that a significant proportion of those available will fail to find a new club.

He said yesterday: "We could lose as many as a third of the 589. Our job is to try and get them all fixed up – but I'd be pleased if two thirds stayed.

"People are quick to talk about players' salaries but not as eager to look at the other side of it – the insecurity of the profession.

"The majority of players are on one or two-year contracts, particularly in the Football League, so are very insecure and vulnerable. And there is a great deal of uncertainty in a lot of households."

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