Slow-moving 'exodus'

The 'exodus' from Portman Road is on hold - but it may only be a temporary reprieve.Town fans should not seek too much comfort from the failure of Sunderland targets Kelvin Davis and Tommy Miller (pictured far right) to check in at the Stadium of Light.

By Dave Vincent

The 'exodus' from Portman Road is on hold - but it may only be a temporary reprieve.

Town fans should not seek too much comfort from the failure of Sunderland targets Kelvin Davis and Tommy Miller (pictured far right) to check in at the Stadium of Light.

Scottish giants Celtic are the latest club to enter the race for out-of-contract midfield ace Miller and he looks to have played his last game for the club. His father, Tommy Miller senior, who is acting as his agent, has told sources close to the Scottish club that Celtic are a 'massive' club and they were flattered by the interest.


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They were both impressed by Gordon Strachan, then manager of Coventry City, during negotiations when he had tried to sign Tommy four years ago.

There has also been interest in 15-goal Miller from Leeds United and relegated Crystal Palace.

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But the attractions of being able to move closer to his north-east roots and also play Champions' League football could take him to Glasgow.

That said, the Millers haven't heard direct from Celtic as yet. Strachan is away on holiday in Spain, although he is touch with the club daily and directing transfer activities.

Tommy Miller jnr has flown out to the sun on honeymoon, after getting married to Emma on Saturday, and will consider the various offers on the table at his leisure. Like her husband, she is from the North East and her family are Sunderland fans.

Strachan, who has taken over the reins from Martin O'Neill, is looking for several players to boost his squad for another SPL title challenge and for Europe. He is known to be long-term admirer of Miller, having tried unsuccessfully to buy him for Coventry from Hartlepool four years ago.

Both Coventry and Ipswich agreed a £750,000 fee with Hartlepool but George Burley managed to persuade Miller to join Ipswich, then in the Premiership, instead.

Twenty-six-year-old Miller proved a key player last season, scoring 15 goals from midfield and there is a new contract on the table for him at Portman Road. But longer, more lucrative deals are available in the Premiership, or the SPL, and it would be the biggest move of his career.

Black Cats manager Mick McCarthy has a transfer budget burning a hole in his pocket after winning the Championship but it seems he may not land Town keeper Davis, who is reluctant to make the move north.

But, with a goalkeeper merry-go-round taking place in the top two leagues, Davis, voted the best keeper in the Championship last season, could still be on his way.

He is reluctant to move his young family from Suffolk and other clubs will have been alerted to his availability once Ipswich had accepted Sunderland's bid.

Fulham have agreed to sell Edwin van der Sar to Manchester United and promoted West Ham United are also in need of another goalkeeper.

Davis, signed on a free from Wimbledon (now MK Dons), is under contract and Town boss Joe Royle would have the proceeds of his sale for a transfer kitty. The price on his head is thought to be around £1 million, though some of that would have to go to the MK Dons.

With Darren Bent already departed to Charlton, three or four more of Royle's preferred starting 11 of last season are likely to be missing by the start of next season.

Skipper Jim Magilton is still thinking over his new contract offer and Shefki Kuqi is likely to be elsewhere in August.

david.vincent@eadt.co.uk

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