Shock return in store for Jeffers

FRANCIS Jeffers is set for a shock return to Ipswich Town.The Blackburn striker is making amazing progress from a hamstring tear, picked up after he scored in the 5-2 win over Hull City, and could be back at Portman Road next week.

By Derek Davis

FRANCIS Jeffers is set for a shock return to Ipswich Town.

The Blackburn striker is making amazing progress from a hamstring tear, picked up after he scored in the 5-2 win over Hull City, and could be back at Portman Road next week.

Blues boss Jim Magilton last night confirmed that he is due to talk with Jeffers and Rovers boss Mark Hughes today about the possibility of Jeffers finishing his rehabilitation at Ipswich and playing next month.

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Magilton said: “Frannie has done very well and is making better than expected progress. We would love to have him back and if everyone is agreed and we can be sure that we will get some games out of him, then we will sign him for the rest of the season.

“Frannie has shown a real willingness to come back and we have seen what he can do for us. We will get an honest assessment from the people at Blackburn and if it is right for us then he will be back.”

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If the return doesn't happen as planned, and hoped for, Magilton will not bring in anyone else, as Aston Villa have decided to hang on to Luke Moore. Magilton said: “We have asked about taking Luke but Aston Villa are keen to hold on to him which is a shame for us but understandable.”

Blues fans could be given some extra cheer before the end of the season though, with Magilton admitting he is considering recalling Ian Miller from his loan spell with Darlington.

Miller has been gaining valuable experience in League Two, first with Boston United and now with the Quakers, after joining the Blues from Bury Town for a nominal fee, and his progress has not gone unnoticed at Portman Road.

Magilton said: “We have been getting weekly reports about Ian and he has being doing very well. I'm keen to bring him back and give him his debut for Ipswich so we can see him in our first team.”

The decision may be prompted by an injury to Jason De Vos, who has been playing in pain with a sore foot.

The skipper has also had the four stitches in a gash above his mouth removed and replaced with a neater set after being elbowed at Luton.

Richard Naylor is still struggling with a sore toe and has not returned to full training on a regular basis as yet. French midfielder Sylvain Legwinski has had a scan on a painful foot and the result should be known around lunchtime today.

Although Ipswich's future in the Championship has looked secure for some time - they are just a couple of points away from the accepted safety margin of 50 points with seven games to go - there is an argument for Magilton to keep hold of the cash he has left over from this season's budget and use it in the summer.

But there are plenty of incentives to bring back Jeffers for Town, who are looking for a strong finish and need a goal poacher to line up alongside top-scorer Alan Lee, who has a respectable 15 so far.

Magilton's side need wins and good performances against Plymouth and Barnsley at home, before going to Sheffield Wednesday four days before the deadline for discounted season-ticket prices, to convince those floaters to shell out.

Fans who wait until later in the season - after the trip to Norwich for example, or until they see if Ipswich can avoid their worst league position in nearly 50 years - will then have to pay up to 8% more than they did last year.

Yesterday's biggest loan move involved Championship title challengers Birmingham City, who have landed Andy Cole until the end of the season, including the play-offs if needed, from Premiership club Portsmouth.

Town will open their pre-season campaign at Nigel Clough's Burton Albion. The Blues will take a large squad to the Pirelli Stadium on July 10, for a friendly in which they will probably field a different XI in each half.

Chris Casement has been called into the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad to face Romania in Pitesti, on Saturday.

Alex Bruce is on stand-by for Steve Staunton Republic of Ireland side that meet Wales at Croke Park on Saturday and then away to Slovakia four days later.

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