Town's rivals to splash the cash

AS comedian Jim Davidson says: “I've been rich and I've been poor, and I know which one I prefer.”Football is divided into its haves and have-nots.And while money-bags Wigan Athletic are planning to splash out another £1 million for their promotion campaign Ipswich Town are still looking to use the loan market.

By Dave Vincent

AS comedian Jim Davidson says: “I've been rich and I've been poor, and I know which one I prefer.”

Football is divided into its haves and have-nots.

And while money-bags Wigan Athletic are planning to splash out another £1 million for their promotion campaign Ipswich Town are still looking to use the loan market.

Town were boosted by the arrival of £250,000 permanent signing Darren Currie, who scored on his debut, in their fine 4-2 win at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. It was Town's first signing, for a transfer fee, since Marcus Bent three years ago.

Meanwhile Wigan, backed by sports goods millionaire benefactor Dave Whelan, are in hot pursuit of Burnley captain Robbie Blake and another mystery Championship striker.

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They already have a squad which has cost more than £5 million to assemble, while Town's squad is mostly home grown or free transfers.

Town's top strike partnership, Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi, did not cost the club a fee. And they were both on target again at Loftus Road.

Wigan's goals mainly come from Nathan “The Duke” Ellington, a mere £1.2 million, and Jason Roberts, who cost £1.4 million rising to £2 million.

Town boss Joe Royle is hoping to add a loan signing to his squad ahead of the visit of Wigan to Portman Road next Tuesday when midfielder Kevin Horlock will be missing, suspended, after collecting another yellow card at QPR.

But he could re-shuffle his midfield with Currie able to play in several different positions.

Royle said: “I was delighted to get Darren in. His versatility is very appealing, and while I primarily see him as a wide midfielder, there is no doubt that he gives us plenty of options going forward.

“Ideally I would like to bring in one player, somebody who could come in and improve us.”

One possibility is an extra defender though the performances of youngsters Aidan Collins and Michael Synnott, in particular, in the FA Youth Cup on Monday in front of Royle will have done them no harm.

“Aidan Collins is starting to make strides again after a year of injuries and growing up, while Gerard Nash is still waiting to get his career going.

“We have Drissa Diallo, who can play in the middle or right back, but there is no doubt an extra body would be extremely useful in the coming weeks.

“I am certainly putting out feelers and we are not ruling anything out.”

Three times Burnley have rebuffed Paul Jewell's approaches for star striker Blake with the bids rising from £500,000 to £600,000 and £700,000 in a week.

Now Jewell has said he might switch his attention to another Championship target with Crewe's top scorer Dean Ashton rumoured to be a possibility. He could have to compete with Premiership clubs for the prolific Ashton.

If that were the case even the bankrolling of the transfer budget by JJB sports tycoon Whelan might not be enough. Certainly attendances at the 25,000 capacity JJB Stadium won't do a lot to help.

They rarely exceed 10,000 for football, rather than rugby league, and only then with a substantial travelling support.

The leaders are the second-top scorers in the Championship, behind Town, with 43 goals from their 23 games - Town have hit 46 in 23.

Jewell believes that £700,000 is a fair price for the 28-year-old Blake and seems reluctant to go higher.

He said: “It looks like that is going to be the end of it and we are certainly not going any higher than that.

“This has become a protracted saga but it now looks like Blakey is going to be staying at Burnley.”

Jewell revealed he hasn't had any luck either with an offer for a second transfer target. “We put in an offer three weeks ago but the lad hasn't stopped scoring goals since then, so I think there are going to be Premier League teams queueing up to take him,” he said.

david.vincent@eadt.co.uk

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