Royle must wait to conclude loan deal

BLUES boss Joe Royle was today sweating on the fitness of Danish international Claus Jensen so Ipswich can sign his Charlton team-mate Chris Bart-Williams on a month's loan, writes Derek Davis.

BLUES boss Joe Royle was today sweating on the fitness of Danish international Claus Jensen so Ipswich can sign his Charlton team-mate Chris Bart-Williams on a month's loan, writes Derek Davis.

Reports that the deal was done yesterday were premature.

Although verbal agreement was reached on Tuesday night with Addicks boss Alan Curbishley after Royle watched Bart-Williams in action for the Addicks reserves, nothing has yet been signed.

Curbishley is concerned he will be left short if Jensen, who played as a substitute in last night's European Championship qualifying group match for Denmark, at home to Romania, arrives back at the Valley later today injured. If that happens he will refuse to allow Bart-Williams to go to Portman Road for a loan spell.


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The Charlton boss last night said: "We agreed in principle to the loan, but it still depends on the availability of our international players and whether they return fit and healthy from their games with their countries."

Sierra Leone-born Bart-Williams was substituted shortly before the end of the 4-0 victory against Fuham and Royle made the snap decision to go for him after a scan on one of Tommy Miller's knees showed bruising to the bone. Miller will miss the next couple of weeks through injury.

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Former England B and Under-21 international Bart-Williams has made 33 appearances for the Addicks since joining from Nottingham Forest, initially on loan, in December 2001.

Before that he was with Sheffield Wednesday after starting his career at Leyton Orient.

After successfully securing Alan Mahon on loan from Blackburn, Royle was considering waiting to make his next move. He was keen to sign Lee Carsley on loan from Everton but the Republic of Ireland international picked up a fresh injury in their draw with Russia on Tuesday.

He lost out on Arsenal's Francis Jeffers after he returned to Everton and Boudewijn Zenden was another target lost to Middlesbrough before the Premiership transfer deadline.

If the Bart-Williams deal goes through today, he will step straight into the starting line up to face West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Ironically, he will probably take the place of Georges Santos, who was brought in to replace Thomas Gaardsoe, who was sold to the Baggies for £520,000 after being told he would not command a first-team place at Portman Road.

Gaardsoe has helped keep four clean sheets in his five starts for Albion, and been made man of the match in the last three games.

Royle appears to have lost confidence in playing Santos in the holding role and has said he will play him in the back four of defence, which would probably push the unfortunate Richard Naylor out.

Town will be without Chris Makin, who has a muscle problem in his thigh which has spread to his groin, for Saturday's game at the league leaders.

Teenager Matt Richards is likely to step into the left-back role behind debut-making Mahon, who completed his three-month loan signing on Monday.

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