Saints after Town stars

By David VincentIPSWICH Town confirmed last night Southampton have made an approach for £3 million-rated stars Darren Bent and Matt Richards.The club also revealed Joe Royle was hoping to make central defender Drissa Diallo his first signing as manager of the Blues.

By David Vincent

IPSWICH Town confirmed last night Southampton have made an approach for £3 million-rated stars Darren Bent and Matt Richards.

The club also revealed Joe Royle was hoping to make central defender Drissa Diallo his first signing as manager of the Blues.

The announcements came as Town first-team coach Tony Mowbray was being linked with the vacant manager's post at newly-promoted Hartlepool.


You may also want to watch:


Southampton manager Gordon Strachan has been linked with a move for Town teenagers, left-back Matt Richards and striker Darren Bent, although Royle is adamant he wants the pair to stay at Portman Road.

Royle confirmed last night: "There has been interest from Southampton in the two lads, but we have no intention of selling them."

Most Read

Any move to snatch the teenagers could be dependent on whether Strachan manages to hold on to his own stars like full-back Wayne Bridge and centre forward James Beattie.

Strachan already has a space in his squad for another striker, having released former £7m man Kevin Davies on a free transfer.

He has said there are cut-price bargains to be had in the Nationwide League, thanks to the harsher financial climate forcing clubs to ask realistic transfer fees.

Royle also confirmed last night his interest in signing Guinea international defender Drissa Diallo, who made his debut for Burnley against Town in the 1-1 draw and impressed the Blues manager with a powerful defensive display.

"I have been in discussions with Drissa for a while now and would love to make him my first signing here," said Royle.

"He is a powerful defender, strong in the air and as brave as they come and is just what we need after conceding too many goals last season."

After exiting administration on Friday, Town are now awaiting clearance from the Football League this week to sign new players for the coming season.

Drissa, who joined the Clarets in January on a month-by-month contract after being given a free transfer by Belgian club Mechelen, would be Royle's first signing as Town manager and would not command a fee.

Meanwhile, Town's first-team coach Tony Mowbray may get his chance to step up to management at newly-promoted Hartlepool in the Nationwide Second Division.

Mowbray has made no secret of his desire to become a manager and he would be a popular choice in the North-East, where he was a playing legend at Middlesbrough alongside Gary Pallister.

The vacancy has arisen at Victoria Park following the shock departure of Mike Newell, who only succeeded Chris Turner in the job in November, ahead of Mowbray and other candidates. Mowbray stepped in as caretaker manager at Portman Road last season between George Burley getting the sack and Royle taking over – and said the experience had whetted his appetite for full-time management.

Hartlepool chairman Ken Hodcroft, who decided not to offer Newell a new contract despite their promotion, said there was no hurry to appoint a new manager.

George Burley brought Mowbray to Ipswich from Celtic in 1995 and after settling in he became an inspirational captain.

He has been involved in coaching the first-team squad since giving up playing and Royle has already offered him a new contract to remain next season.

Mowbray faces strong opposition for the Hartlepool job, including former York boss Terry Dolan and former Sunderland assistant and Stoke City manager Steve Cotterill, who are both without a job.

Ipswich Town's Mark Venus, who began his career at Hartlepool, could be in line to join Mowbray at Victoria Park, if he gets the job.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter