Royle - Pablo won't go back to Spain

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night vowed to repel the Spanish Armada of clubs looking to tempt Pablo Counago back to his homeland, writes Derek Davis.The Spanish press have reported that Town's top scorer has attracted interest from La Liga sides Atletico Madrid and Valencia after plundering an impressive 19 goals in league, domestic cup and UEFA Cup competitions this season.

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night vowed to repel the Spanish Armada of clubs looking to tempt Pablo Counago back to his homeland, writes Derek Davis.

The Spanish press have reported that Town's top scorer has attracted interest from La Liga sides Atletico Madrid and Valencia after plundering an impressive 19 goals in league, domestic cup and UEFA Cup competitions this season.

But Royle said: "We have heard nothing from any club regarding Pablo and nor do I want to. He is not one we want to let go."

But Royle admitted the club's parlous position may make it difficult to keep the former Spanish Under-21 international, who was spotted by George Burley after scoring against England.

Royle said: "If a big offer were to come in for him then it is out of my hands but I would want him next season for us."

Counago has made rapid progress for Ipswich this season after a drought for the first team in the Premiership and was voted the club's most improved player.

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Along with Marcus Bent, Darren Bent and Dean Bowditch, Counago makes up an impressive strike force at Portman Road which Town would not like to change.

It is at the back in the goalkeeping position where Royle is looking to strengthen and after putting James Pullen and Andy Marshall on the free transfer list he is looking for a new number one.

He said: "I have spoken to three managers about goalkeepers and while we are not close to completing a deal as yet, I'm confident of getting in a new keeper by next season."

Everton keeper Paul Gerrard remains a stopper he would like to bring to the club again and Everton boss David Moyes confirmed that Royle had asked about his availability.

Royle has made no secret he has enquired but repeated: "Financially it would be difficult for us but it is not completely out of the question."

The Town manager put his media hat back on again on Thursday when he summarised for Yorkshire Television as Sheffield United reached the play-off final by beating Nottingham Forest.

Former Town striker David Johnson was left in tears after the defeat despite him giving Forest the lead and it will have left the financial people at Town crying too as Ipswich were due a £500,000 bonus payment if Paul Hart's side won promotion to the Premiership.

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