Scowcroft return chance moves closer

THE possibility of James Scowcroft returning to Portman Road moved a little closer last night when Leicester City signed two new players, writes Derek Davis.

THE possibility of James Scowcroft returning to Portman Road moved a little closer last night when Leicester City signed two new players, writes Derek Davis.

Ipswich Town tried to sign Scowcroft on loan a few weeks ago but their attempt co-incided with new manager Craig Levein being appointed and he blocked the move.

The Foxes boss yesterday signed two of Levein's former Hearts players, fuelling the likelihood that Scowcroft would be returning to Ipswich, where he would be warmly received.

One of Leicester's new arrivals is Surinam-born striker Mark de Vries, who hit 31 goals in two seasons in Scotland after being signed by Levein. The other is midfielder Alan Maybury, who also worked for Levein at Hearts.

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City will pay £100,000 for the pair and are looking to offload players from their squad.

Ipswich boss Joe Royle would not be drawn on whether he is lining up another move for the bustling attacker, who can also play wide right, but would not rule it out either.

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Royle added: "James is not one of the two players we have asked about."

There have been no new developments on that front either since the EADT reported the Blues had moved for two players, although they would only take one of them.

If a new player was signed within the next 24 hours he would be eligible to play in Saturday's FA Cup match as long as he was registered before noon tomorrow.

The popular forward was also believed to be a target for Norwich City although Canaries boss Nigel Worthington last night dismissed a report claiming he had tabled a £600,000 bid for Scowcroft.

He said: "The Scowcroft situation was something we visited in the summer but have not revisited."

Royle was turning his attentions to Saturday's cup tie with Bolton, who are closely tracking Shefki Kuqi, in case their bid to sign Russian international Dimitri Bulykin fails.

Wanderers have not yet contacted Town officially about the Finn's availability but could make a move next week.

Town will be without Arsenal loanee Danny Karbassiyoon, with the Gunners not wanting him cup-tied, meaning Matt Richards returns to the left-back berth.

Skipper Jim Magilton provides a potent link with the last big knock-out night the two clubs enjoyed in May 2000 as Town moved to a Wembley final with a 5-3 win on the night, after extra-time for a 7-5 aggregate victory.

Magilton scored a hat-trick as two Wanderers players were sent off by Orpington official Barry Knight, who has never been forgiven in the Lancashire town.

But that was a long time ago and a lot of things at both clubs have changed since then. Magilton insists he is now looking forward to having an FA Cup run.

He said: "It was a very special game for me as it took us to Wembley and eventually promotion after a fantastic day out in the final.

"My record in the FA Cup is not the best so it would be great if we could have some success this year. I grew up dreaming of playing in a FA Cup final and to walk out at the Millennium Stadium would be something special."

The two sides are vastly different since that night in May with only one Bolton player from that game playing for them in their 2-1 win over Birmingham City on Tuesday – goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen

Three Blues players involved that night are still with Ipswich – Magilton, Richard Naylor, who went on as a 79th-minute substitute, and Fabian Wilnis, who stayed on the bench.

Town have changed managers, with George Burley now leading Derby's revival in the Championship and Joe Royle in his place at Portman Road.

Royle insists that the play-off game has no significance at all now. He said "That is history – it will count for nothing on Saturday."

Sam Allardyce is still in charge of the Trotters, having guided them to the Premiership with success in the play-offs the following season.

Royle is the last English manager to have won the FA Cup, and 10 years after Everton's success in the final against Manchester United he would love to do it again.

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