Toffees sweet on Jamma

IPSWICH Town star Jermaine Wright is a wanted man.Premiership side Everton yesterday expressed their interest in signing the Portman Road players' player of the year, who has already been the subject of interest from Southampton and newly-relegated Leeds United.

IPSWICH Town star Jermaine Wright is a wanted man.

Premiership side Everton yesterday expressed their interest in signing the Portman Road players' player of the year, who has already been the subject of interest from Southampton and newly-relegated Leeds United.

And Town boss Joe Royle is looking for a decision from the 28-year-old midfielder before the end of the week.

Wright, out of contract at Portman Road, has been offered a new deal to extend his five-year stay at the club.


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But he has been asked to take a significant cut in salary - and the terms on offer at both Goodison Park and Elland Road are far more attractive.

Royle, back at his desk yesterday after almost two weeks at his holiday home in Majorca, admitted: “The odds are that Jamma will be moving on. He is coveted by both Everton and Leeds.

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“It is now up to him to decide and, while he has until the 28th of the month, I have spoken to his agent and both him and Jamma agree that I need to know what is happening as soon as possible.

“It would be good to know before the end of the week what his plans are. We could perhaps replace him from within the squad, but ideally I would like to bring someone in.”

Ipswich cannot possibly compete with what Everton and Leeds, despite their problems, can afford to offer Wright, a £500,000 buy from Crewe in 1999.

Meanwhile, striker Marcus Bent is another Town star whose future is uncertain now that he has returned from a season-long loan at Leicester.

The Foxes initially showed an interest in keeping Bent at the Walkers Stadium, but Royle explained: “They didn't want to pay a fee for him and we have said we require one.”

Bent, who has one year of his contract to run, is known to be on a bigger-than-average salary - the main reason for allowing him to have a temporary stint at Leicester.

With Town committed to reducing their wage bill, they will have to decide between thrusting Bent into the first-team picture again or allowing him to move on for nothing.

Royle's search for a new striker has been shelved, at least for the time being, with both Bent and the fit-again Pablo Counago available for the new campaign.

While Wright ponders his future, the Town boss plans to speak to the other out-of-contract players who have been offered new deals in the next few days.

Fabian Wilnis, Richard Naylor, John McGreal and Jim Magilton, who are all considering 12-month packages, seem likely to stay put.

Royle will be busy over the remainder of the week before jetting off to Portugal for Euro 2004, which he is covering as a member of the BBC TV team.

n Mark Venus is expected to be named Tony Mowbray's No. 2 at Hibernian next week.

New Hibs manager Mowbray is reported to be on the verge of appointing his former Ipswich colleague Venus as his assistant at Easter Road. Reports in Scotland suggest Venus will be unveiled once Mowbray returns from holiday in the USA.

n Norwich striker Ian Henderson has committed his future to the Premiership newcomers by signing a new three-year contract.

The 19-year-old England youth international is the second Canaries youngster this week to pen a new deal, following in the footsteps of defender Jason Shackell.

Henderson, who has come through the youth ranks at Carrow Road, made his debut in October 2002 and has made 43 appearances, 24 as a substitute, since, scoring five goals.

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