Young talent not for sale

BLUES chairman David Sheepshanks last night reacted angrily to suggestions that Owen Garvan will be sold in January's transfer window.Sheepshanks is adamant that none of Ipswich Town's stars will be flogged - unless it is for silly money - and that the club is looking to use its Academy products to rebuild the side.

By Derek Davis

BLUES chairman David Sheepshanks last night reacted angrily to suggestions that Owen Garvan will be sold in January's transfer window.

Sheepshanks is adamant that none of Ipswich Town's stars will be flogged - unless it is for silly money - and that the club is looking to use its Academy products to rebuild the side.

Rather than sell players, the Blues board has money available for manager Joe Royle to go out and bring in two loan players, with the possibility of taking someone on a permanent basis in the New Year.


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Sheepshanks said: “There is ample money to secure a loan or two, depending on the ability of that player, and Joe will judge the timing and the availability of the right player.

“There is still room to strengthen the team with loans and, if we do well from now until Christmas, there may be room for more than that. We may even be able to crystalise a permanent deal in January.”

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While there are funds available to the manager, it does not run to the £2m-plus needed for a top-rated striker and the club are not willing to plunder its investment in youth for short-term fix.

Sheepshanks said: “We invest just under £1m each year in our Academy. The board could say we will cancel the money into the Academy and use it on a player now, do people want us to do that?

“The answer, of course, would be no, we have to balance the short term aspirations with the long term - the answer, of course, would be no.

“We are trying to manoeuvre into a position where we can develop the young players into first-team players - and that includes Owen Garvan.”

There is no doubt that a number of Town's young players have been attracting interest from a number of Premiership clubs, a perennial problem for the Blues, with some scouts almost needing a season ticket.

Garvan and Lewis Price have been watched regularly, while others have also been noted with interest, but Sheepshanks is adamant they do not want to sell, and his stance is not just a way of forcing the price up.

He said: “There are no plans to sell any current first-team player this season. Nor is there any need.

“We have to caveat that by saying, ultimately in our position as a club, you can never say never.

“But we have no intention of selling any of our best young players this season.

“We have had no bids for any of our young payers. We are aware of admirers but that is all we intend them to be.

“Of course, if a club comes in with a mega-million pound bid then the board has a duty to consider that but we do not anticipate that will be the case.

“So I reiterate - in normal circumstances no regular first-team player will be sold and that includes the cream of our youth.”

Sheepshanks insists the situation for this window is different to the summer transfer period, when Town sold two players and another two exercised their option not to renew their contracts and move to Premiership clubs.

He said: “We were under no pressure to sell but, equally, we knew Darren Bent had one year on his contract and, commercially, it was in our interest to sell.”

Kelvin Davis was also sold to Sunderland for £1.25m, which was money the Blues did not expect to get and, in Lewis Price and Shane Supple, they have two outstanding young goalkeepers who have ably stepped in.

It is probable that in the next month or so one or two players that are not figuring in the first team will be allowed to go out on loan.

That would give them experience and also free up some extra funds, but Royle will not permit anyone to go out unless he is sure he has adequate cover.

AS expected, Lewis Price has been named in the Wales squad to face Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan in their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The Blues keeper has a very good chance of making his full international duty against the Irish, at Windsor Park tomorrow week.

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