Trio of clubs battling for Bent

A THREE-WAY battle seems to be developing over Ipswich Town's Marcus Bent with Leicester, Portsmouth and promoted West Bromwich Albion all in the hunt for him, writes David Vincent.

A THREE-WAY battle seems to be developing over Ipswich Town's Marcus Bent with Leicester, Portsmouth and promoted West Bromwich Albion all in the hunt for him, writes David Vincent.

Bent, who spent last season on loan at Leicester in the Premiership and put in some impressive performances, is now a Town player again and a big drain on resources during the summer.

Foxes boss Micky Adams would love to keep the 26-year-old to help score the goals needed to help the relegated Foxes to bounce back to the top flight.

But he would be struggling to find the cash if Ipswich hold out for a transfer fee.


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Bent is reported to be on around £17,000 a week and one of only three players on Premiership-level salaries at Portman Road.

The others are Martijn Reuser and Pablo Counago

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Portsmouth, after their fine first season in the top flight after promotion, also have their eyes on Bent, with manager Harry Redknapp an admirer. And though he would not want to pay a transfer fee either, both Pompey and West Brom can offer the striker the chance to continue in the top league and have the financial resources to afford him.

Redknapp said: "Marcus is a player with bags and bags of ability. He has strength, pace and is good in the air. But the question mark over him is why he has been to so many clubs. That's the gamble. It's about him putting it all together on a regular basis. But I wouldn't pay a fee for him – not a penny."

Bent became a favourite of the Leicester fans despite their poor season.

He scored 10 goals in 29 appearances, many of them winners and battled right through the end of games, which made him popular with supporters.

Adams has seen 15 players leave at the end of their contracts and others are being courted by Premiership teams, including Portsmouth.

Ben Thatcher, the former Wimbledon and Spurs defender, has already been in talks with Redknapp and Manchester City are also interested in taking him,

Like Paul Dickov, who went to Blackburn Rovers, he had a get-out clause in his contract allowing him to go for a nominal fee if Leicester were relegated.

Despite their relegation Leicester get a parachute payment from the Premiership and Adams is looking to bring in around 10 players to re-build his squad.

Ideally those signings would include Bent on a permanent deal as Leicester look short of cover up front. In addition to losing Dickov, former England striker Les Ferdinand is recovering from an ankle injury, so it is not clear whether he will play for them next season.

The Baggies need to boost their squad after promotion with strikers a priority for manager Gary Megson.

Redknapp has problems of his own in the striking department. Nigerian star Yakubu is a transfer target for Middlesbrough while the attempt to sign former Colchester striker Lomana Lua Lua from Newcastle United is becoming a saga.

Lua Lua did well on loan at Pompey last season but there is a sticking point. Bobby Robson wants a fee of £2 million while Portsmouth only want to pay £1.2 million. Bent might be a better option.

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