Royle's warning to stalling stars

JOE Royle has warned hesitant out-of-contract Ipswich Town players that his patience is wearing thin and has set a weekend deadline for them to sign up or leave the club, writes Derek Davis.

JOE Royle has warned hesitant out-of-contract Ipswich Town players that his patience is wearing thin and has set a weekend deadline for them to sign up or leave the club, writes Derek Davis.

The EADT can today reveal that securing the services of Fabian Wilnis is not as cut and dried as first thought and the Dutchman is seeking talks with the manager before committing himself.

Chris Makin is another who wants a meeting with Royle to discuss the finer points of his deal.

The Blues boss is confident that Jim Magilton and Richard Naylor will sign new deals today but is still waiting on a definitive answer from Makin and Wilnis.

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Wilnis insists he would love to stay at Ipswich but last night added: "I have not agreed any deal, much less signed anything, and will not do so until I have sat down with the manager and had a chat.

"There are one or two things I need to talk over with him first."

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Wilnis' hesitancy is another blow for Royle, following Makin's reluctance to accept a two-month offer.

The EADT understands a number of senior players are concerned at the significant weakening of the squad with John McGreal and Jermaine Wright rejecting new deals with Town in favour of offers from Burnley and Leeds United respectively.

The sale of Marcus Bent to Everton for £450,000 and the expected free transfer of Martijn Reuser to Willem II, along with the release of Alun Armstrong, have caused anxiety about the side's promotion chances.

At the same time Royle is waiting to sort out the contracts before moving to add to the signing of Canadian international defender Jason De Vos.

He has set the ultimatum so he can progress further in bringing in reinforcements for the Championship challenge.

Royle said: "I need the players' contracts to be sorted out by the weekend at the latest. I'm quite confident after speaking to Richard and Jim earlier this week that they will sign, but I have not heard back from Chris and Fabian's agents.

"As from Monday we will know exactly where we stand and players, managers and agents will be back from wherever and the serious business of getting players can start."

Royle has refused to discuss players who he may be after with two sitting at the top of his wish list.

Neither are thought to be Gerard Wiekens, the Dutchman who played for Royle at Manchester City in a holding midfield role and in defence.

He admitted liking the 31-year-old but denied he was embroiled in a battle with Wigan for his services as reported on the internet yesterday.

He said: "We have not made a move for anyone yet so we are not involved in any sort of battle with anyone for any player."

Without any parachute money from the Premiership this season and a strict business plan to follow in keeping with the Creditors Voluntary Agreement, Ipswich Town still can not afford to pay for new signings and Royle must look to pick up out-of-contract players or free transfers to bolster his squad.

The number of players unemployed as of today stands at 499, which is 87 less than last season.

More players are realising they have to settle for less lucrative deals than in the recent past, which is why many of them are looking for the security of two or three-year contracts.

The club are hoping to settle Reuser's contract this week, paying him in the region of £300,000, so he can make a move to Eredivisie club Willem II. It is common practice for clubs to settle contracts for players who leave after being put on the transfer list, as was the case with Reuser. Players are usually entitled to loyalty bonuses as long as they have not asked for a transfer and they are often paid up for the remainder of their contract, or a percentage of it.

Reuser has a year left and his weekly wage is understood to be around £12,000, so the club would save about £300,000 by paying him off early.

The Town squad were yesterday training at Wattisham airfield with RAF personnel as part of their pre-season training.

n Andy Rhodes has been taken on by Ipswich Town as a full-time goalkeeping coach, following the departure of Malcolm Webster to Derby County.

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