Pompey keen on Hreidarsson

PORTSMOUTH, already almost sure of their place in the Premiership next season, have made an inquiry about Ipswich Town's Icelandic international defender Hermann Hreidarsson, writes Tony Garnett.

PORTSMOUTH, already almost sure of their place in the Premiership next season, have made an inquiry about Ipswich Town's Icelandic international defender Hermann Hreidarsson, writes Tony Garnett.

This was confirmed by Ipswich Town manager Joe Royle last night when he said: "Portsmouth have been in touch but nothing has been agreed. Hermann will not be fit for another three or four weeks so Portsmouth would be buying him with a view to next season."

Although the Ipswich Town administrators would welcome the chance to reduce the club's wage bill there is no incentive for Pompey to rush into a deal as Hreidarsson is still struggling with the gashed thigh sustained in an accidental clash with Sergei Shtaniuk at Portman Road on March 8.

Hreidarsson rejected the chance of a move to West Bromwich last year, no doubt assessing that their stay at the top level might be brief.

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If a Premiership vulture is to swoop for an Ipswich Town star eligible to play this season, the final opportunity is today. Maybe Charlton Athletic will take the plunge for Matt Holland. Perhaps Aston Villa, Newcastle United or West Ham might take a gamble on Darren Ambrose or Darren Bent.

The deadline is tonight for a Premiership giant to do a deal with a club like Ipswich Town which is in financial distress.

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Royle admitted: "Things are tight. We could do with doing a deal sooner than later. Nothing is imminent but there is an interest in our players.

"There is not a lot of money around. There is the possibility of a deal but it is by no means a certainty. The game is in recession. Clubs are suffering.

"Some clubs may feel happy to battle on with the players they already have whether they are challenging for a place in Europe or trying to stay up. They may feel there will be better deals to be secured in the summer."

Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley and his assistant Mervyn Day have watched Ipswich on a regular basis in recent months as have scouts from West Ham including manager Glenn Roeder and assistant Paul Goddard.

One target is thought to be the versatile Ipswich captain Holland who has scored terrific goals in the last two games. In the close season Holland rejected the chance of a move to Aston Villa which would have meant an upheaval for his family. If he joined a London club he might not have to move house.

Ambrose and Darren Bent, Town's teenage stars who have come through the Academy, could also be tempting propositions for clubs keen to build for the future with English-born players.

Royle, only too well aware of the financial predicament that faces the club's administrators, said: "Hopefully we will still have a squad strong enough to challenge for the play-offs."

Tommy Miller and Ambrose are due back in full training today. They will join the squad to face Brighton and Hove Albion at Portman Road tomorrow so long as they suffer no reaction.

Miller went off with a tight hamstring during the 0-0 draw with Stoke City on March 8 while Ambrose started at Crystal Palace on March 11 but lasted only 23 minutes.

The players did light training yesterday with Royle saying: "The players are fit at this time of the season and it's a question of getting their minds right rather than their bodies."

The four long-term casualties are still some way from a return. Striker Alun Armstrong is due to have the plaster removed from his broken wrist next week. "He has been running so he won't lack physical fitness but he will be lacking match practice," said Royle.

Mark Venus is recovering from a cartilage operation. Finidi George and John McGreal are said to be "chugging along."

Brighton will be without their crack marksman and outstanding player Bobby Zamora. A scan has revealed a slightly torn hamstring which will keep him out for two matches.

Better news for the Seagulls is that Tony Rougier, whose loan spell from Reading ends tomorrow, is fit together with midweek doubts Richard Carpenter (hip) and Simon Rodger (ankle).

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