Royle targets target man

JOE Royle last night started his hunt for a new target man and a centre-half as he prepares for next season's assault on Premiership promotion.The Blues boss revealed his priority to the EADT and admitted his budget for wages will be less than £5m for the new campaign.

JOE Royle last night started his hunt for a new target man and a centre-half as he prepares for next season's assault on Premiership promotion.

The Blues boss revealed his priority to the EADT and admitted his budget for wages will be less than £5m for the new campaign.

When Royle took over at Ipswich Town 18 months ago the annual salary for players was more than £22m, it is now down to around £7m and he now has to shave a little more than £2m more off.

That means he must use his skill in the transfer market to bring in someone out of contract, or on a free transfer, who will accept the new slim-line pay structure.


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The Blues missed out on a place in the play-off final by failing to score against West Ham at Upton Park, but if their goals against tally had been better they may have had a chance of automatic qualification.

To address that problem Royle has identified two key areas where he must strengthen in the summer.

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He said: “My priority is a target man. We want someone who can hold the ball up. Too often it comes back too easily and puts us under pressure, so I'm looking for an experienced forward who can do that job.”

Royle ruled out a return of popular forward James Scowcroft, even in a possible swap deal with Marcus Bent.

Rumours have been sweeping East Anglia that Bury St Edmunds-based Scowcroft is coming back but Royle said: “Leicester would want to keep him. They will be without Paul Dickov and Marcus Bent next season and anyway they would want a fee for Scowy and we are not paying out.

“We saw the difference that Matt Elliott made when he came here just by being sensible. We need two centre-halves who can play together.

“It would be very hard to keep Matty, I would love to keep him alongside John (McGreal) but it is unlikely at this stage.”

Royle confirmed that Marcus Bent will be transfer-listed now that he is back from his loan spell at the Walkers Stadium. He said: “Marcus is for sale but we want a fee for him.”

Royle may look again at trying to tempt Duncan Ferguson from Everton, while Dwight Yorke has been told he can leave Blackburn Rovers for nothing. Both sets of wages may be a little rich for the Blues, but it is players of that ilk that Royle would probably seek.

If West Ham were to beat Crystal Palace in the play-off final Brian Deane may become another option.

While it has been common knowledge for some time that some of the nine out-of-contract players will be leaving in the summer, the EADT has learnt that others who still have at least a year left will also join Marcus Bent in being offered away.

Tony Mowbray will also be discussing his future in the next couple of weeks.

But Royle laughed off suggestions that he is about to leave in the summer.

Royle told the EADT recently that he fully intended to honour his contract, which has a year to run.

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