Saints eyeying Town youngster

FA Cup finalists Southampton are showing a keen interest in young Ipswich Town star Matt Richards, writes Derek Davis.Blues chairman David Sheepshanks last night admitted Saints had been tracking Richards but made it clear he was not for sale.

FA Cup finalists Southampton are showing a keen interest in young Ipswich Town star Matt Richards, writes Derek Davis.

Blues chairman David Sheepshanks last night admitted Saints had been tracking Richards but made it clear he was not for sale. Sheepshanks said: "We are aware that Southampton are one of the clubs who are interested in Matt Richards, along with a few of our other young players.

"We have had no approach from them and nor would we welcome one for any of our youngsters around whom Joe Royle is looking to build our future team."

Richards made his debut at 17 years of age, in the 1-0 UEFA Cup win at Avenir Beggen in August, and has gone to be a regular starter at left-back, making 17 appearances.


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I understand Saints are looking to bring in cover for England international Wayne Bridge, who may be a target for even bigger Premiership clubs. Ipswich would benefit very little from selling the likes of Richards at this stage but would clearly listen keenly to offers for any of the high earners at the club.

The club's vulnerability makes them a target for Premiership predators but early indications that season-ticket renewals are good and interest in debentures for 10 and 20-year seats are 'extremely encouraging.'

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Sheepshanks admitted: "The first thing we have to do is exit administration and then get Football League agreement to trade once more. The amount of season tickets sold in the remainder of this month is very important. They can only strengthen our ability in resisting unwanted interest in our young players.

"I'm very encouraged by the early substantial interest in debentures and season-ticket renewals."

Meanwhile, Dean Bowditch looks to continue his impressive season by helping England towards the finals of the Under-17 European Championship today. Bowditch, who scored the equaliser against Israel on Wednesday as England went on to win 2-1, is expected to start against Italy in Chaves, Portugal, this evening. Victory would set England up for a grand finale against Spain.

The 16-year-old made his Ipswich Town debut in the derby victory over Norwich in March and has featured in the first team five times since then.

Bowditch will be looking to push top striking trio Pablo Counago, who finished the season on 19 goals, Darren Bent, who weighed in with 18 goals, and Marcus Bent, who netted a dozen goals in an injury-ravaged season.

Such a mouth-watering attack is possibly one reason why debentures and season tickets are going so well.

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