Royle tight-lipped over Hoyte rumours

JOE Royle would neither confirm nor deny reports from London yesterday that Arsenal defender Justin Hoyte is high on his wish list, writes Derek Davis.

JOE Royle would neither confirm nor deny reports from London yesterday that Arsenal defender Justin Hoyte is high on his wish list, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues boss is hoping to secure the services of a Premiership defender on a season-long loan but has refused to reveal the identity of his target.

Hoyte (pictured below) is currently playing in Austria on Arsenal's pre-season tour and while he wants to gain more first-team experience away from Arsenal he is looking to join a Premiership club for the season.

Royle is not giving anything away until a deal is done with whoever the man may be.

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He said: "I'm not announcing or renouncing names, as it just turns into a guessing farce.

"I had thought the deal would have been done by now but that has not been the case and I'm regretting saying on Saturday that we were close. We are still speaking to clubs and I'm still hopeful. We have one or two prospects and one I feel is favourable but he won't be here before the Newcastle game or maybe not even before the weekend."

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Southampton defender Chris Baird is another player Town were keen to get. His agent Gary Williams confirmed Ipswich's interest but the 22-year-old has turned down the chance as he is buying a house in Hampshire and his fiancee is pregnant.

Now Hoyte is in the frame. The 5'11'' right-back, who can also play at centre-back, has made three appearances for Arsenal, his debut coming last season when he started against Rotherham in the Carling Cup. He played for the Gunners reserves in the 4-1 win over Ipswich last September and was in the England Under-19 side, which beat Germany at Portman Road in 2002, with Darren Bent and Matt Bloomfield also starring.

Meanwhile, Ipswich will not be keeping triallist Nicolas Gousse, who has been told his future lies elsewhere. Even though he impressed Royle with his ability the Frenchman was too similar to Dean Bowditch and Bent in his style.

More than 22,000 tickets have been sold for Dale Roberts' testimonial match tonight with the return of Town heroes Sir Bobby Robson, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble and Darren Ambrose. Unfortunately new signing Patrick Kluivert is not in the squad, although it is a strong Newcastle United side.

Ian Westlake is a major doubt for Ipswich as he is suffering from an abscess on a tooth.

Jim Magilton trained yesterday and will skipper the Blues as they look to use the free-scoring 4-3-3 formation.

Bent, who has twice rejected a move to Newcastle, has shown superb pace and directness in pre-season on the right side of attack with Bowditch looking fluid on the left with Shefki Kuqi or Pablo Counago the middle man.

It is a system somewhat forced on Royle but one which he may deploy in the Championship.

He said: "It suits us at the moment with the players we have available. I'm not saying we will use it all season but we have looked better with having Kevin Horlock in the holding midfield role.

"It gets Darren away from the physical side at the moment and gives Dean a chance to get involved."

Apparently, there is no substance to the rumour that Ipswich are putting extra security men on the Newcastle team coach to ensure no more of the Blues young talent is spirited away.

Tonight's squads

Ipswich Town: Davis, Wilnis, Richards, Horlock, Naylor, De Vos, Magilton, Miller, Kuqi, Bent, Bowditch, Diallo, Price, Barron, Counago, Mitchell and Westlake.

Newcastle United: Given, Hughes, Bernard, Jenas, Bramble, O'Brien, Ambrose, Dyer, Shearer, Ameobi, Milner, Bellamy, Harper, Robert, Taylor and Chopra.

Referee: Mike Thorpe (Suffolk).

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