Royle closes in on keeper

Joe Royle is closing in on his first transfer target, writes David Vincent.Former England Under-21 keeper Paul Gerrard looks like being the answer to Ipswich Town manager Royle's goalkeeping dilemma.

Joe Royle is closing in on his first transfer target, writes David Vincent.

Former England Under-21 keeper Paul Gerrard looks like being the answer to Ipswich Town manager Royle's goalkeeping dilemma.

And, if 6ft 2ins tall Gerrard does agree to come to Portman Road this time, after previously turning the club down, it will be the fourth time he has played under Royle.

Town seem certain to be pipped at the post for the signature of 33-year-old Rotherham stopper Mike Pollitt by Premiership Wigan Athletic.


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Clearly the money on offer at the JJB Stadium, with its £25 million transfer fund provided by chairman Dave Whelan, will be more than available at relegated Rotherham or Ipswich.

Nottingham Forest were also relegated from the Coca-Cola Championship and Gerrard was almost ever-present.

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He has a year remaining on his contract at the City Ground but could be surplus to requirements, as Gary Megson clears the decks in order to recruit his own men to build for a swift return to the Championship.

Megson hopes to bring in young Birmingham City keeper Colin Doyle on a season-long loan after he impressed in a loan spell at Forest.

Royle has made no secret of his wish to bring in an experienced keeper ahead of Welsh Under-21 international Lewis Price and FA Youth Cup winner Shane Supple following the £1.25 million sale of Kelvin Davis to Sunderland.

Thirty-two-year-old Gerrard began his career under Royle at Oldham Athletic.

Royle paid out £1million to take him to Goodison Park in 1996 though he hasn't changed clubs for a fee since.

Gerrard's Everton opportunities were limited by competition for the No. 1 shirt with Neville Southall, Thomas Myhre, Richard Wright and Nigel Martyn.

His loans out included games for Sheffield United, Oxford and Forest.

And a fine spell at the City Ground at the end of the season before last led to him signing a two-year permanent deal when his Everton contract ran out in the summer.

He chose to sign for Joe Kinnear at Forest, snubbing offers from Leeds United and Ipswich.

Royle rates him highly and actually brought him to Portman Road on loan in October 2002, when he played five games for Town before injury cut his short his stay.

One of those was a 2-1 defeat at Forest, where former Blues ace David Johnson scored twice.

Forest are set to seek a fee for Gerrard, as he is still under contract. But they might be pleased to get him off their wage bill after their relegation to League One, where money will be tighter.

Gerrard's last visit to Portman Road in March wasn't a happy occasion for him.

He had to pick the ball out of the net six times as a rampant Town put Forest to the sword.

It is a summer of many moves and much speculation in the goalkeeping game.

Promoted clubs Sunderland have snapped up Davis and Roy Carroll has joined West Ham United.

There are a lot of other keepers looking for new clubs, including former England international Ian Walker, who has been released by Leicester City.

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